B. S, Monroe
Cornell University Library
The Middle temple murder.
The original of this book is in
the Cornell University Library.
There are no known copyright restrictions in
the United States on the use of the text.
http://www.archive.org/details/cu31 92401 361 2464
I THE WHITE ROOK
By J. B. Hanis-Burland
"Exciting, entertaining, and mystifying.
A detective story to warm the cockles of a
Sherlockian. Carries a story along with
the thrills and no end of unexpected situa-
tions." — Oakland Tribune.
II THE SOLITARY HOUSE
By E. R. Punshon
"Here is a story to start reading about
9 p. M. if you want to make a night of it in
the old armchair. If the wind is moaning
in the chimney so much the better. ... A
story which is 100 p. c. thrill." — Boston
m THE SHADOW OF MALREWARD
By J. B. Harris-Burland
An expedition into the Congo — a mys-
terious death in an English village —
the fatal prophecy that hung over a great
English house — are joined in an un-
usually baffling detective story.
IV THE MIDDLE-TEMPLE MURDER
By J. S. Fletcher
J. S. FLETCHER
ALFRED A- KNOPF
COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY
ALFRED A. KNOPF, Inc.
Published, August, 1919
Second Printing, September, 1919
•9 d>-"' ). r^-
PEUrt^D IN THE UNITED STATBS OF AMIBICA
I THE SCRAP OF GREY PAPER <>
II HIS FIRST BRIEF 17
in THE CLUE OF THE CAP 26
IV THE ANGLO-ORIENT HOTEL 35
V SPARGO WISHES TO SPECIALIZE 44
VI WITNESS Tb A MEETING 53
VII MR. AYLMORE 62
VIII THE MAN FROM THE SAFE DEPOSIT 71
IX THE DEALER IN RARE STAMPS 80
X THE LEATHER BOX 89
XI MR. AYLMORE IS QUESTIONED 98
XII THE NEW WITNESS 107
Xm UNDER SUSPICION 115
XIV THE SILVER TICKET 123
XV MARKET MILCASTER 132
XVI THE ' ' YELLOW DRAGON ' ' 141
XVn MR. QUARTERPAGE HARKS BACK 150
XVni AN OLD NEWSPAPER 159
XIX THE CHAMBERLAYNE STORY 167
XX MAITLAND olias MARBURY 176
XXI ARRESTED 184
XXII THE BLANK PAST 193
XXIII MISS BAYLIS
XXIV MOTHER GUTCH
XXVI STILL SILENT 225
XXVn MR. ELPHICK 's CHAMBERS 233
XXVm OF PROVED IDENTITY 241
XXIX THE CLOSED DOORS 250
XXX; REVELATION 259
XXXI THE PENITENT WINDOW-CLEANER 268
XXXn THE CONTENTS OP THE COFFIN 276
XXXra FORESTALLED 285
XXXIV THE WHIP HAND 294
XXXV MYERST EXPLAINS 302
XXXVI THE PINAL TELEGRAM 311
THE SCEAP OF GREY PAPER
As a rule, Spargo left the Watchman oflSce at two
'clock. The paper had then gone to press. There was
nothing for him, recently promoted to a sub-editorship,
to do after he had passed the column for which he was
responsible ; as a matter of fact he could have gone home
before the machines began their clatter. But he gen-
erally hung about, trifling, until two o'clock came. On
this occasion, the morning of the 22nd of June, 1912,
he stopped longer than usual, chatting with Hacket, who
had charge of the foreign news, and who began telling
Mm about a telegram which had just come through from
Durazzo. What Hacket had to tell was interesting:
Spargo lingered to hear all about it, and to discuss it.
Altogether it was well beyond half -past two when he went
out of the office, unconsciously puffing away from him
as he reached the threshold the last breath of the at-
mosphere in which he had spent his midnight. In Fleet
Street the air was fresh, almost to sweetness, and the
first grey of the coming dawn was breaking faintly
around the high silence of St. Paul's.
Spargo lived in Bloomsbury, on the west side of Rus-
sell Square. Every night and every morning he walked
to and from the Watchman office by the same route —
Southampton Row, Kingsway, the Strand, Fleet Street.
He came to know several faces, especially amongst the
10 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
police ; he formed the habit of exchanging greetings with
various officers whom he encountered at regular points
as he went slowly homewards, smoking his pipe. And
on this morning, as he drew near to Middle Temple
Lane, he saw a policeman whom he knew, one Driscoll,
standing at the entrance, looking about him. Further
away another policeman appeared, sauntering. Driscoll
raised an arm and signalled; then, turning, he saw
Spargo. He moved a step or two towards him. Spargo
saw news in his face.
"What is it?" asked Spargo.
Driscoll jerked a thumb over his shoulder, towards
the partly open door of the lane. Within, Spargo saw
a man hastily donning a waistcoat and jacket.
"He says," answered Driscoll, "him, there — ^the
porter — that there's a man lying in one of them entries
down the lane, and he thinks he's dead. Likewise, he
thinks he's murdered."
Spargo echoed the word.
"But what makes him think that?" he asked, peep-
ing with curiosity beyond Driscoll 's burly form.
"He says there's blood about him," answered Dris-
coll. He turned and glanced at the oncoming constable,
and then turned again to Spargo. "You're a news-
paper man, sir?" he suggested.
"I am," replied Spargo.
"You'd better walk down with us," said Driscoll,
with a grin. "There'll be something to write pieces in
the paper about. At least, there may be." Spargo
made no answer. He continued to look down the lane,
THE SCRAP OF GREY PAPER 11
wondering what secret it held, until the other policeman
came up. At the same moment the porter, now fully
clothed, came out.
"Come on!" he said shortly. "I'll show you."
DriscoU murmured a word or two to the newly-arrived
constable, and then turned to the porter.
"How came you to find him, then?" he asked
The porter jerked his head at the door which they
"I heard that door slam," he replied, irritably, as if
the fact which he mentioned caused him offence. "I
know I did ! So I got up to look around. Then — well,
I saw that!"
He raised a hand, pointing down the lane. The three
men followed his outstretched finger. And Spargo then
saw a man's foot, booted, grey-socked, protruding from
an entry on the left hand.
' ' Sticking out there, just as you see it now, ' ' said the
porter. "I ain't touched it. And so "
He paused and made a grimace as if at the memory
of some unpleasant thing. DriscoU nodded compre-
"And so you went along and looked?" he suggested.
"Just so — just to see who it belonged to, as it might
"Just to see — ^what there was to see," agreed the
porter. "Then I saw there was blood. And then —
well, I made up the lane to tell one of you chaps."
"Best thing you could have done," said DriscoU.
"Well, now then "
The little procession came to a halt at the entry.
12 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
The entry was a cold and formal thing of itself; not
a nice place to lie dead in, having glazed white tiles
for its walls and concrete for its flooring; something
about its appearance in that grey morning air suggested
to Spargo the idea of a mortuary. And that the man
whose foot projected over the step was dead he had no
doubt : the limpness of his pose certified to it.
For a moment none of the four men moved or spoke.
The two policemen unconsciously stuck their thumbs
in their belts and made play with their fingers; the
porter rubbed his chin thoughtfully — Spargo remem-
bered afterwards the rasping sound of this action; he
himself put his hands in his pockets and began to jingle
his money and his keys. Each man had his own thoughts
as he contemplated the piece of human wreckage which
lay before him.
"You'll notice," suddenly observed DriscoU, speak-
ing in a hushed voice, "You'll notice that he's lying
there in a queer way — ^same as if — ajs if he'd been put
there. Sort of propped up against that wall, at first,
and had slid down, like."
Spargo was taking in all the details with a professional
eye. He saw at his feet the body of an elderly man;
the face was turned away from him, crushed in against
the glaze of the wall, but he judged the man to be elderly
because of grey hair and whitening whisker; it was
clothed in a good, well-made suit of grey check cloth —
tweed — and the boots were good: so, too, was the linen
cuff which projected from the sleeve that hung so limply.
One leg was half doubled under the body ; the other was
stretched straight out across the threshold; the trunk
THE SCRAP OF GREY PAPER 13
was twisted to the wall. Over the white glaze of the
tiles against which it and the shoulder towards which it
had sunk were crushed there were gouts and stains of
blood. And Driscoll, taking a hand out of his belt,
pointed a finger at them.
"Seems to me," he said, slowly, "seems to me as how
he's been struck down from behind as he came out of
here. That blood's from his nose — gushed out as he
fell. What do you say, Jim?" The other policeman
"Better get the inspector here," he said. "And the
doctor and the ambulance. Dead — ain't he?"
Driscoll bent down and put a thumb on the hand
which lay on the pavement.
"As ever they make 'em," he remarked laconically.
"And stiff, too. Well, hurry up, Jim!"
Spargo waited until the inspector arrived; waited
until the hand-ambulance came. More policemen came
with it; they moved the body for transference to the
mortuary, and Spargo then saw the dead man's face.
He looked long and steadily at it while the police ar-
ranged the limbs, wondering all the time who it was
that he gazed at, how he came to that end, what was the
object of his murderer, and many other things. There
was some professionalism in Spargo 's curiosity, but
there was also a natural dislike that a fellow-being should
have been so unceremoniously smitten out of the world.
There was nothing very remarkable about the dead
man's face. It was that of a man of apparently sixty
to sixty-five years of age ; plain, even homely of feature,
clean-shaven, except for a fringe of white whisker.
14 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
trimmed, after an old-fashioned pattern, between the
ear and the point of the jaw. The only remarkable
thing about it was that it was much lined and seamed;
the wrinkles were many and deep around the corners of
the lips and the angles of the eyes ; this man, you would
have said to yourself, has led a hard life and weathered
storm, mental as well as physical.
Driscoll nudged Spargo with a turn of his elbow. He
gave him a wink. "Better come down to the dead-
house," he muttered confidentially.
"Why?" asked SpargOv
"They'll go through him," whispered Driscoll.
"Search him, d'ye see? Then you 11 get to know all
about him, and so on. Help to write that piece in the
Spargo hesitated. He had had a stiff night's work,
and until his encounter with DriseoU he had cherished
warm anticipation of the meal which would be laid out
for him at his rooms, and of the bed into which he
would subsequently tumble. Besides, a telephone mes-
sage would send a man from the Watchman to the mor-
tuary. This sort of thing was not in his line now,
"You'll be for getting one o' them big play-cards
out with something about a mystery on it," suggested
Driscoll. "You never know what lies at the bottom o'
these affairs, no more you don't."
That last observation decided Spargo; moreover, the
old instinct for getting news began to assert itself.
" All right, " he said. "I '11 go along with you. "
And re-lighting his pipe he followed the little cor-
THE SCRAP OF GREY PAPER 15
tege through the streets, still deserted and quiet, and as
he walked behind he reflected on the unobtrusive fashion
in which murder could stalk about. Here was the work
of murder, no doubt, and it was being quietly carried
along a principal London thoroughfare, without fuss or
noise, by officials to whom the dealing with it was all a
matter of routine. Surely
"My opinion," said a voice at Spargo's elbow, "my
opinion is that it was done elsewhere. Not there! He
was put there. That's what I say." Spargo turned
and saw that the porter was at his side. He, too, was
accompanying the ^ody.
" Oh ! " said Sparge. ' ' You think ' '
"I think he was struck down elsewhere and carried
there," said the porter. "In somebody's chambers,
maybe. I've known of some queer games in our bit of
London! Well! — he never oame in at my lodge last
night — I'll stand to that. And who is he, I should like
to know? From what I see of him, not the sort to be
about our place."
"That's what we shall hear presently," said Spargo.
"They're going to search him."
But Spargo was presently made aware that the search-
ers had found nothing. The police-surgeon said that
the dead man had, without doubt, been struck down from
behind by a terrible blow which had fractured the skull
and caused death almost instantaneously. In DriscoU's
opinion, the murder had been committed for the sake
of plunder. For there was nothing whatever on the
body. It was reasonable to suppose that a man who is
well dressed would possess a watch and chain, and have
16 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
money in his pockets, and possibly rings on Ms fingers.
But there was nothing valuable to be found ; in fact there
was nothing at all to be found that could lead to identi-
fication — no letters, no papers, nothing. It was plain
that whoever had struck the dead man down had subse-
quently stripped him of whatever was on him. The only
clue to possible identity lay in the fact that a soft cap
of grey cloth appeared to have been newly purchased at
a fashionable shop in the West End.
Spargo went home; there seemed to be nothing to
stop for. He ate his food and he went to bed, only to
do poor things in the way of sleepir. . He was not the
sort to be impressed by horrors, but he recognized at
last that the morning's event had destroyed his chance
of rest; he accordingly rose, took a cold bath, drank a
cup of coffee, and went out. He was not sure of any
particular idea when he strolled away from Bloomsbury,
but it did not surprise him when, half an hour later he
found that he had walked down to the police station near
which the unknown man's body lay in the mortuary.
And there he met DriscoU, just going off duty. Dris-
coll grinned at sight of him.
"You're in luck," he said. " 'Tisn't five minutes
since they found a bit of grey writing paper crumpled
up in the poor man's waistcoat pocket— it had slipped
into a crack. Come in, and you'll see it."
Spargo went into the inspector's office. In another
minute he found himself staring at the scrap of paper.
There was nothing on it but an address, scrawled in
pencil: — Ronald Breton, Barrister, King's Bench Walk,
HIS FIRST BRIEF
Spargo looked up at the inspector with a quick jerk
of his head. "I know this man," he said.
The inspector showed new interest.
"What, Mr. Breton?" he asked.
"Yes. I'm on the Watchman, you know, sub-editor.
I took an article from him the other day — article on
'Ideal Sites for Campers-Out.' He came to the office
about it. So this was in the dead man 's pocket ? ' '
"Found in a hole in his pocket, I understand : I wasn't
present myself. It's not much, but it may afford some
clue to identity."
Spargo picked up the scrap of grey paper and looked
closely at it. It seemed to him to be the sort of paper
that is found in hotels and in clubs; it had been torn
roughly from the sheet.
"What," he asked meditatively, "what will yon do
about getting this man identified?"
The inspector shrugged his shoulders.
"Oh, usual thing, I suppose. There'll be publicity,
you know. I suppose you'll be doing a special account
yourself, for your paper, eh? Then there'll be the
others. And we shall put out the usual notice. Some-
body will come forward to identify — sure to. And — "
18 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
A man came into the oflSce — a stolid-faced, quiet-
mannered, soberly attired person, who might have been
a respectable tradesman out for a stroll, and who gave
the inspector a sidelong nod as he approached his desk,
at the same time extending his hand towards the scrap
of paper which Spargo had just laid down.
"I'll go along to King's Bench Walk and see Mr.
Breton," he observed, looking at his watch. "It's just
about ten — I daresay he'll be there now."
"I'm going there, too," remarked Spargo, but as if
speaking to himself. "Yes, I'll go there."
The newcomer glanced at Spargo, and then at the
inspector. The inspector nodded at Spargo.
"Journalist," he said, "Mr. Spargo of the Watchman.
Mr. Spargo was there when the body was found. And
he knows Mr. Breton." Then he nodded from Spargo
to the stolid-faced person. "This is Detective-Sergeant
Rathbury, from the Yard," he said to Spargo. "He's
come to take charge of this case."
" Oh ? " said Spargo blankly. ' ' I see— what, ' ' he went
on, with sudden abruptness, "what shall you do about
"Get him to come and look at the body," replied
Rathbury. "He may know the man and he mayn't
Anyway, his name and address are here, aren't they?"
"Come along," said Spargo. "I'll walk there with
Spargft remained in a species of brown study all the
way along Tudor Street ; his companion also maintained
silence in a fashion which showed that he was by nature
and custom a man of few words. It was not until the
HIS FIRST BRIEF 19
two were climbing the old balustrated staircase of the
house in King's Bench Walk in which Ronald Breton's
chambers were somewhere situate that Spargo spoke.
"Do you think that old chap was killed for what he'
may have had on him?" he asked, suddenly turning on
"I should like to know what he had on him before
I answered that question, Mr. Spargo," replied Rath-
bury, with a smile.
"Yes," said Spargo, dreamily. "I suppose so. He
might have had — nothing on him, eh ? "
The detective laughed, and pointed to a board on
which names were printed.
"We don't know anything yet, sir," he observed,
"except that Mr. Breton is on the fourth floor. By
which I conclude that it isn't long since he was eating
"Oh, he's young — he's quite young," said Spargo.
' ' I should say he 's about f our-and-twenty. I 've met him
At that moment the unmistakable sounds of girlish
laughter came down the staircase. Two girls seemed to
bfr laughing — presently masculine laughter mingled with
the lighter feminine.
"Seems to be studying law in very pleasant fashion
up here, anyway," said Rathbury. "Mr. Breton's
chambers, too. And the door's open."
The outer oak door of Ronald Breton's chambers stood
thrown wide; the inner one was well ajar; through the
opening thus made Spargo and the detective obtained a
full view of the interior of Mr. Ronald Breton's rooms.
20 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
There, against a background of law books, bundles of
papers tied up with pink tape, and black-framed pictures
of famous legal notabilities, they saw a pretty, vivacious-
eyed girl, who, perched on a chair, wigged and gowned,
and flourishing a mass of crisp paper, was haranguing
an imaginary judge and jury, to the amusement of a
young man who had his back to the door, and of another
girl who leant confidentially against his shoulder.
"I put it to you, gentlemen of the jury — I put it to
you with confidence, feeling that you must be, must
necessarily be, some, perhaps brothers, perhaps hus-
bands, and fathers, can you, on your consciences do my
client the great wrong, the irreparable injury, the —
"Think of some more adjectives!" exclaimed the
young man. "Hot and strong 'uns — pile 'em up.
That's what they like— they— Hullo !" ,
This exclamation arose from the fact that at this point
of the proceedings the detective rapped at the inner
door, and then put his head round its edge. Where-
upon the young lady who was orating from the chair,
jumped hastily down; the other young lady withdrew
from the young man's protecting arm; there was a fem-
inine giggle and a feminine swishing of skirts, and a
hasty bolt into an inner room, and Mr. Ronald Breton
came forward, blushing a little, to greet the interrupter.
"Come in, come in!" he exclaimed hastily. "I "
Then he paused, catching sight of Sparge, and held
out his hand with a look of surprise.
"Oh— Mr. Spargo?" he said. "How do you do? —
we — I — we were just having a lark — I'm off to court
HIS FIRST BRIEF 21
in a few minutes. What can I do for you, Mr. Sparge ? ' '
He had backed to the inner door as he spoke, and he
now closed it and turned again to the two men, looking
from one to the other. The detective, on his part, was
looking at the young barrister. He saw a tall, slimly-
built youth, of handsome features and engaging pres-
ence, perfectly groomed, and immaculately garbed, and
having upon him a general air of well-to-do-ness, and he
formed the impression from these matters that Mr.
Breton was one of those fortunate young men who may
take up a profession but are certainly not dependent
upon it. He turned and glanced at the journalist.
' ' How do you do ? " said Spargo slowly. ' ' I — the fact
is, I came here with Mr. Rathbury. He — ^wants to see
you. Detective-Sergeant Rathbury — of New Scotland
Spargo pronounced this formal introduction as if he
were repeating a lesson. But he was watching the young
barrister's face. And Breton turned to the detective
with a look of surprise.
"Oh?" he said. "You wish^ "
Rathbury had been fumbling in his pocket for the
scrap of grey paper, which he had carefully bestowed in
a much- worn memorandum-book. "I wished to ask a
question, Mr. Breton," he said. "This morning, about
a quarter to three, a man — elderly man — ^was found dead
in Middle Temple Lane, and there seems little doubt
that he was murdered. Mr. Spargo here — he was pres-
ent when the body was found."
"Soon after," corrected Spargo. "A few minutes
22 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"When this body was examined at the mortuary,"
continued Rathbury, in his matter-of-fact, buSiness-like
tones, "nothing was found that could lead to identifica-
tion. The man appears to have been robbed. There
was nothing whatever on him — but this bit of torn paper,
which was found in a hole in the lining of his waistcoat
pocket. It's got your name and address on it, Mr.
Ronald Breton took the scrap of paper and looked at
it with knitted brows.
"By Jove!" he muttered. "So it has; that's queer.
What's he like, this man?"
Rathbury glanced at a clock which stood on the man-
"Will you step round and take a look at him, Mr.
Breton ? " he said. " It 's close by . "
"Well — I — ^the fact is, I've got a case on, in Mr. Jus-
tice Borrow 's court," Breton answered, also glancing
at his clock. "But it won't be called until after eleven.
"Plenty of time, sir," said Rathbury; "it won't take
you ten minutes to go round and back again — a look
will do. You don't recognize this handwriting, I sup-
Breton still held the scrap of paper in his fingers.
He looked at it again, intently.
"No!" he answered. "I don't. I don't know it at
all — I can't think, of course, who this man could be, to
have my name and address. I thought he might have
been some country solicitor, wanting my professional
services, you know," he went on, with a shy smile at
HIS FIRST BRIEF 23
Spargo; "but, three — three o'clock in the morning, eh?"
"The doctor," observed Rathbury, "the doctor thinks
he had been dead about two and a half hours. ' '
Breton turned to the inner door.
"I'll — I'll just tell these ladies I'm going out for a
quarter of an hour," he said. "They're going over to
the court with me — I got my first brief yesterday," he
went on with a boyish laugh, glancing right and left at
his visitors. "It's nothing much — small case — but I
promised my fiancee and her sister that they should be
present, you know. A moment. ' '
He disappeared into the next room and came back a
moment later in all the glory of a new silk hat. Spargo,
a young man who was never very particular about his
dress, began to contrast his own attire with the butterfly
appearance of this youngster; he had been quick to no-
tice that the two girls who had whisked into the inner
room had been similarly garbed in fine raiment, more
characteristic of Mayfair than of Fleet Street. Already
he felt a strange curiosity about Breton, and about the
young ladies whom he heard talking behind the inner
"Well, eome on," said Breton. "Let's go straight
The mortuary to which Rathbury led the way was
cold, drab, repellent to the general gay sense of the
summer morning. Spargo shivered involuntarily as he
entered it and took a first glance around. But the young
barrister showed no sign of feeling or concern ; he looked
quickly about him and stepped alertly to the side of
the dead man, from whose face the detective was turn-
24 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
ing back a cloth. He looked steadily and earnestly at
the fixed features. Then he drew back, shaking his head.
"No!" he said with decision. "Don't know him—
don't know him from Adam. Never set eyes on him in
my life, that I know of."
Rathbury replaced the cloth.
"I didn't suppose you would," he remarked. "Well,
I expect we must go on the usual lines. Somebody '11
"You say he was murdered?" said Breton. "Is that
— certain ? ' '
Rathbury jerked his thumb at the corpse.
"The back of his skull is smashed in," he said la-
conically. "The doctor says he must have been struck
down from behind — and a fearful blow, too. I'm much
obliged to you, Mr. Breton."
"Oh, all right!" said Breton. "Well, you know
where to find me if you want me. I shall be curious
about this. Good-bye — good-bye, Mr. Spargo. ' '
The young barrister hurried away, and Rathbury
turned to the journalist.
"I didn't expect anything from that," he remarked.
"However, it was a thing to be done. You are going
to write about this for your paper?"
"Well," continued Rathbury, "I've sent a man to
Fiskie's, the hatter's, where that cap came from, you
know. We may get a bit of information from that
quarter— it's possible. If you like to meet me here at
twelve o'clock I'll tell you anything I've heard. Just
now I'm going to get some breakfast."
HIS FIRST BRIEF 25
"I'll meet you here," said Spargo, "at twelve
He watched Rathbury go away round one corner; he
himself suddenly set off round another. He went to
the Watchman office, wrote a few lines, which he en-
closed in an envelope for the day-editor, and went out
again. Somehow or other, his feet led him up Fleet
Street, and before he quite realized what he was doing
he found himself turning into the Law Courts.
THE CLUE OF THE CAP
Having no clear conception of what had led him to
these scenes of litigation, Spargo went wandering aim-
lessly about in the great hall and the adjacent corridors
until an official, who took him to be lost, asked him if
there was any particular part of the building he wanted.
For a moment Spargo stared at the man as if he did not
comprehend his question. Then his mental powers re-
"Isn't Mr. Justice Borrow sitting in one of the courts
this morning ? " he suddenly asked.
"Number seven," replied the official. "What's your
ease — when's it down?"
"I haven't got a case," said Spa-rgo. "I'm a press-
man — reporter, you know."
The official stuck out a finger.
"Round the corner— first to your right — second on the
left," he said automatically. "You'll find plenty of
room — ^nothing much doing there this morning."
He turned away, and Spargo recommenced his appar-
ently aimless perambulation of the dreary, depressing
"Upon my honour!" he muttered. "Upon my hon-
THE CLUE OF THE CAP 27
our, I really don't know what I've come up here for.
I've no business here."
Just then he turned a comer and came face to face
with Ronald Breton. The young barrister was now in
his wig and gown and carried a bundle of papers tied up
with pink tape ; he was escorting two young ladies, who
were laughing and chattering as they tripped along at
his side. And Spargo, glancing at them meditatively,
instinctively told himself which of them it was that he
and Rathbury had overheard as she made her burlesque
speech : it was not the elder one, who walked by Ronald
Breton with something of an air of proprietorship, but
the younger, the girl with the laughing eyes and the
vivacious smile, and it suddenly dawned upon him that
somewhere, deep within him, there had been a notion, a
hope of seeing this girl again — why, he could not then
Spargo, thus coming face to face with these three,
mechanically lifted his hat. Breton stopped, half in-
quisitive. His eyes seemed to ask a question.
"Yes," said Spargo. "I — the fact is, I remembered
that you said you were coming up here, and I came after
you. I want — when you've time — to have a talk, to ask
you a few questions. About — this affair of the dead
man, you know. ' '
Breton nodded. He tapped Spargo on the arm.
"Look here," he said. "When this case of mine is
over, I can give you as much time as you like. Can you
wait a bit? Yes? Well, I say, do me a favour. I was
taking these ladies round to the gallery — round there,
and up the stairs — and I'm a bit pressed for time — I've
28 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
a solicitor waiting for me. You take them— there 's a
good fellow; then, when the case is over, bring them
down here, and you and I will talk. Here— I '11 intro-
duce you all — no ceremony. Miss Aylmore — Miss Jessie
Aylmore. Mr. Spargo — of the Waichman. Now, I'm
off!" Breton turned on the instant; his gown whisked
round a comer, and Spargo found himself staring at two
smiling girls. He saw then that both were pretty and
attractive, and that one seemed to be the elder by some
three or four years.
"That is very cool of Ronald," observed the elder
young lady. "Perhaps his scheme doesn't fit in with
yours, Mr. Spargo? Pray don't "
"Oh, it's all right!" said Spargo, feeling himself un-
commonly stupid. "I've nothing to do. But — where
did Mr. Breton say you wished to be taken ? ' '
"Into the gallery of number seven court," said the
younger girl promptly. "Round this comer — I think
I know the way."
Spargo, still marvelling at the rapidity with which
affairs were moving that morning, bestirred himself to
act as cicerone, and presently led the two young ladies
to the very front of one of those public galleries from
which idlers and specially-interested spectators may see
and hear the proceedings which -obtain in the badly- ven-
tilated, ill-lighted tanks wherein justice is dispensed at
the Law Courts. There was no one else in that gallery ;
the attendant in the corridor outside seemed to be vastly
amazed that any one should wish to enter it, and he
presently opened the door, beckoned to Spargo, and came
half-way down the stairs to meet him.
THE CLUE OF THE CAP 29
"Nothing much going on here this morning," he
■whispered behind a raised hand. "But there's a nice
breach case in number five — get you three good seats
there if you like."
Spargo declined this tempting offer, and went back
to his charges. He had decided by that time that Miss
Aylmore was about twenty-three, and her sister about
eighteen ; he also thought that young Breton was a lucky
dog to be in possession of such a charming future wife
and an equally charming sister-in-law. And he dropped
into a seat at Miss Jessie Aylmore 's side, and looked
around him as if he were much awed by his surroundings.
"I suppose one can talk until the judge enters?" he
whispered. "Is this really Mr. Breton's first case?"
"His very first — all on his own responsibility, any
way," replied Spargo 's companion, smiling. "And
he's very nervous — and so's my sister. Aren't you, now,
Evelyn Aylmore looked at Spargo, and smiled
"I suppose one's always nervous about first appear-
ances," she said. "However, I think Ronald's got
plenty of confidence, and, as he says, it's not much of a
case: it isn't even a jury case. I'm afraid you'll find
it dull, Mr. Spargo — it's only something about a prom-
"Oh, I'm aU right, thank you," replied Spargo, un-
consciously falling back on a favourite formula. "I
always like to hear lawyers — they manage to say such a
lot about — about "
"About nothing," said Jessie Aylmore. "But there
30 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
— so do gentlemen who write for the papers, don't
Spargo was about to admit that there was a good deal
to be said on that point when Miss Aylmore suddenly
drew her sister's attention to a man who had just en-
tered the well of the court.
"Look, Jessie!" she observed. "There's Mr. El-
Spargo looked down at the person indicated: an
elderly, large-faced, smooth-shaven man, a little inclined
to stoutness, who, wigged and gowned, was slowly mak-
ing his way to a corner seat just outside that charmed
inner sanctum wherein only King's Counsel are per-
mitted to sit. He dropped into this in a fashion which
showed that he was one of those men who loved personal
comfort ; he bestowed his plump person at the most con-
venient angle and fitting a monocle in his right eye,
glanced around him. There were a few of his profes-
sional brethren in his vicinity ; there were half a dozen
solicitors and their clerks in conversation with one or
other of them ; there were court oflScials. But the gentle-
man of the monocle swept all these with an indifferent
look and cast his eyes upward until he caught sight of
the two girls. Thereupon he made a most gracious bow
in their direction; his broad face beamed in a genial
smile, and he waved a white hand.
"Do you know Mr. Elphick, Mr. Spargo?" enquired
the younger Miss Aylmore.
"I rather think I've seen him, somewhere about the
Temple, ' ' answered Spargo. ' ' In fact, I 'm sure I have. ' '
"His chambers are in Paper Buildings," said Jessie.
THE CLUE OF THE CAP 31
"Sometimes he gives tea-parties in them. He is Ron-
ald's guardian, and preceptor, and mentor, and all that,
and I suppose he's dropped into this court to hear how
his pupil goes on."
"Here is Ronald," whispered Miss Aylmore.
"And here," said her sister, "is his lordship, looking
very cross. Now, Mr. Spargo, you're in for it."
Spargo, to tell the truth, paid little attention to what
went on beneath him. The case which young Breton
presently opened was a commercial one, involving cer-
tain rights and properties in a promissory note; it
seemed to the journalist that Breton dealt with it very
well, showing himself master of the financial details, and
speaking with readiness and assurance. He was much
more interested in his companions, and especially in the
younger one, and he was meditating on how he could im-
prove his further acquaintance when he awoke to the
fact that the defence, realizing that it stood no chance,
had agreed to withdraw, and that Mr. Justice Borrow
was already giving judgment in Ronald Breton's favour.
In another minute he was walking out of the gallery in
rear of the two sisters.
"Very good — very good, indeed," he said, absent-
mindedly. "I thought he put his facts very clearly
Downstairs, in the corridor, Ronald Breton was talk-
ing to Mr. Elphick. He pointed a finger at Spargo as
the latter came up with the girls : Spargo gathered that
Breton was speaking of the murder and of his, Spargo 's,
connection with it. And directly they approached, he
32 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"This is Mr. Spargo, sub-editor of the Watchman,"
Breton said. "Mr. Elphick — Mr. Spargo. I was just
telling Mr. Elphick, Spargo, that you saw this poor man
soon after he was found."
Spargo, glancing at Mr. Elphick, saw that he was
deeply interested. The elderly barrister took him —
literally — ^by the button-hole.
"My dear sir!" he said. "You — saw this poor fel-
low? Lying dead — ^in the third entry down Middle
Temple Lane? The third entry, eh?"
" Yes, " replied Spargo, simply. "I saw him. It was
the third entry. ' '
"Singular!" said Mr. Elphick, musingly. "I know
a man who lives in that house. In fact, I visited him last
night, and did not leave until nearly midnight. And
this unfortunate man had Mr. Ronald Breton's name
and address in his pocket?"
Spargo nodded. He looked at Breton, and pulled out
his watch. Just then he had no idea of playing the part
of informant to Mr. Elphick.
"Yes, that's so," he answered shortly. Then, looking
at Breton significantly, he added, "If you can give me
those few minutes, now ?"
"Yes— yes!" responded Ronald Breton, nodding.
"I understand. EveljTi— I'll leave you and Jessie to
Mr. Elphick: I must go."
Mr. Elphick seized Spargo once more.
"My dear sir!" he said, eagerly. "Do you— do you
think I could possibly see — the body ? ' '
"It's at the mortuary," answered Spargo. "I don't
know what their regulations are."
THE CLUE OF THE CAP 33
Then he escaped with Breton. They had crossed Fleet
Street and were in the quieter shades of the Temple be-
fore Spargo spoke.
"About what I wanted to say to you," he said at last.
"It was — this. I — ^well, I've always wanted, as a jour-
nalist, to have a real big murder case. I think this is one.
I want to go right into it — thoroughly, first and last.
And — I think you can help me."
"How do you know that it is a murder case?" asked
"It's a murder case," answered Spargo, stolidly.
"I feel it. Instinct, perhaps. I'm going to ferret out
the truth. And it seems to me "
He paused and gave his companion a sharp glance.
"It seems to me," he presently continued, "that the
clue lies in that scrap of paper. That paper and that
man are connecting links between you and — somebody
"Possibly," agreed Breton. "You want to find the
"I want you to help me to find the somebody else,"
answered Spargo. "I believe this is a big, very big af-
fair: I want to do it. I don't believe in police methods
— ^much. By the by, I'm just going to meet Eathbury.
He may have heard of something. Would you like to
Breton ran into his chambers in King's Bench Walk,
left his gown and wig, and walked round with Spargo to
the police oflSce. Rathbury came out as they were step-
"Oh!" he said. "Ah! — I've got what may be help-
34 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
ful; Mr. Spargo. I told you I'd sent a man to Fiskie's,
the hatter? Well, he's just returned. The cap which
the dead man was wearing was bought at Fiskie's yester-
day afternoon, and it was sent to Mr. Marbury, Room 20,
at the Anglo-Orient Hotel."
"Where is that?" asked Spargo.
"Waterloo district," answered Rathbury. "A small
house, I believe. Well, I'm going there. Are you com-
"Yes," replied Spargo. "Of course. And Mr.
Breton wants to come, too."
"If I'm not in the way," said Breton.
"Well, we may find out something about this scrap of
paper, ' ' he observed. And he waved a signal to the near-
est taxi-cab driver.
THE ANGLO-ORIENT HOTEL
The house at which Spargo and his eompauions pres-
ently drew up was an old-fashioned place in the imme-
diate vicinity of Waterloo Railway Station — a plain-
fronted, four-square erection, essentially mid- Victorian
in appearance, and suggestive, somehow, of the very early
days of railway travelling. Anything more in contrast
with the modem ideas of a hotel it would have been dif-
ficult to find in London, and Ronald Breton said so as
he and the others crossed the pavement.
"And yet a good many people used to favour this
place on their way to and from Southampton in the old
days," remarked Rathbury. "And I daresay that old
travellers, coming back from the East after a good many
years' absence, still rush in here. You see, it's close to
the station, and travellers have a knack of walking into
the nearest place when they've a few thousand miles of
steamboat and railway train behind them. Look there,
They had crossed the threshold as the detective spoke,
and as they entered a square, heavily-furnished hall, he
made a sidelong motion of his head towards a bar on the
left, wherein stood or lounged a number of men who
from their general appearance, their slouched hats, aud
36 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
their bronzed faces appeared to be Colonials, or at any
rate to have spent a good part of their time beneath
Oriental skies. There was a murmur of tongues that
had a Colonial accent in it; an aroma of tobacco that
suggested Sumatra and Trichinopoly, and Rathbury
wagged his head sagely. "Lay you anything the dead
man was a Colonial, Mr. Spargo," he remarked. "Well,
now, I suppose that's the landlord and landlady."
There was an office facing them, at the rear of the hall,
and a man and woman were regarding them from a box
window which opened above a ledge on which lay a
register book. They were middle-aged folk: the man,
a fleshy, round-faced, somewhat pompous-looking in-
dividual, who might at some time have been a butler;
the woman a tail, spare-figured, thin-featured, sharp-
eyed person, who examined the newcomers with an en-
quiring gaze. Rathbury went up to them with easy con-
"You the landlord of this house, sir?" he asked.
"Mr. Walters? Just so — and Mrs. Walters, I pre-
sume ? ' '
The landlord made a stiff bow and looked sharply at
"What can I do for you, sir?" he enquired.
"A little matter of business, Mr. Walters," replied
Rathbury, pulling out a card. "You'll see there who
I am— Detective-Sergeant Rathbury, of the Yard. This
is Mr. Prank Spargo, a newspaper man; this is Mr.
Ronald Breton, a barrister. ' '
The landlady, hearing their names and description,
pointed to a side door, and signed Rathbury and his
THE ANGLO-ORIENT HOTEL 37
companions to pass through. Obeying her pointed
finger, they found themselves in a small private parlour.
"Walters closed the two doors which led into it and looked
at his principal visitor.
"What is it, Mr. Rathbury?" he enquired. "Any-
thing wrong ? ' '
"We want a bit of information," answered Rathbury,
almost with indifference.
" Did anybody of the name of Marbury put up here
yesterday — elderly man, grey hair, fresh complexion?"
Mrs. Walters started, glancing at her husband.
"There!" she exclaimed. "I knew some enquiry
would be made. Yes — a Mr. Marbury took a room here
yesterday morning, just after the noon train got in from
Southampton. Number 20 he took. But — he didn't
use it last night. He went out — very late — and he never
Rathbury nodded. Answering a sign from the land-
lord, he took a chair and, sitting down, looked at Mrs.
"What made you think some enquiry would be made,
ma'am?" he asked. "Had you noticed anything?"
Mrs. Walters seemed a little confused by this direct
question. Her husband gave vent to a species of growl.
"Nothing to notice," he muttered. "Her way of
speaking — that's all."
"Well — why I said that was this," said the landlady.
"He happened to tell us, did Mr. Marbury, that he
hadn't been in London for over twenty years, and
couldn 't remember anything about it, him, he said, never
having known much about London at any time. And,
38 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
of course, when he went out so late and never came back,
why, naturally, I thought something had happened to
hii^ and that there 'd be enquiries made."
"Just so— just so!" said Rathbury. "So you would,
ma'am — so you would. Well, something has happened
to him. He's dead. What's more, there's strong rea-
son to think. he was murdered."
Mr. and Mrs. Walters received this announcement
with proper surprise and horror, and the landlord sug-
gested a little refreshment to his visitors. Spargo and
Breton declined, on the ground that they had work to do
during the afternoon; Rathbury accepted it, evidently
as a matter of course.
"My respects," he said, lifting his glass. ''Well,
now, perhaps you'll just tell me what you know of this
man? I may as well tell you, Mr. and Mrs. Walters,
that he was found dead in Middle Temple Lane this
morning, at a quarter to three; that there wasn't any-
thing on him but his clothes and a scrap of paper which
bore this gentleman's name and address; that this gentle-
man knows nothing whatever of him, and that I traced
him here because he bought a cap at a West End hat-
ter's yesterday, and had it sent to your hotel."
"Yes," said Mrs. Walters quickly, "that's so. And
he went out in that cap last night. Well — ^we don't
know much about him. As I said, he came in here about
a quarter past twelve yesterday morning, and booked
Number 20. He had a porter with him that brought a
trunk and a bag— they're in 20 now, of course. He told
me that he had stayed at this house over twenty years
ago, on his way to Australiar— that, of course, was long
THE ANGLO-ORIENT HOTEL 39
before we took it. And he signed his name in the book
as John Marbury."
"We'll look at that, if you please," said Rathbury.
Walters fetched in the register and turned the leaf to
the previous day's entries. They all bent over the dead
" 'John Marbury, Coolumbideee, New South Wales,' "
said Rathbury. "Ah — ^now I was wondering if that
writing would be the same £is that on the scrap of paper,
Mr. Breton. But, you see, it isn't — it's quite different. ' '
"Quite different," said Breton. He, too, was regard-
ing the handwriting with great interest. And Rath-
bury noticed his keen inspection of it, and asked another
"Ever seen that writing before?" he suggested.
"Never," answered Breton. "And yet — there's
something very familiar about it."
"Then the probability is that you have seen it before,"
remarked Rathbury. "Well — now we'll hear a little
more about Marbury 's doings here. Just tell me all
you know, Mr. and Mrs. Walters. ' '
"My wife knows most," said Walters. "I scarcely
saw the man — I don't remember speaking with him."
" No, " said Mrs. Walters. ' ' You didn 't — you weren 't
much in his way. Well," she continued, "I showed him
up to his room. He talked a bit — said he'd just landed
at Southampton from Melbourne. ' '
"Did he mention his ship?" asked Rathbury. "But
if he didn't, it doesn't matter, for we can find out."
"I believe the name's on his thtags," answered the
landlady. "There are some labels of that sort. Well,
40 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
he asked for a chop to be cooked for him at once, as he
was going out. He had his chop, and he went out at
exactly one o'clock, saying to me that he expected he'd
get lost, as he didn't know London well at any time, and
shouldn 't know it at all now. He went outside there —
I saw him — looked about him and walked oE towards
Blackfriars way. During the afternoon the cap you
spoke of came for him — from Fiskie's. So, of course,
I judged he'd been Piccadilly way. But he himself
never came in until ten o'clock. And then he brought a
gentleman with him."
"Aye?" said Rathbury. "A gentleman, now? Did
you see him?"
"Just," replied the landlady. "They went straight
up to 20, and I just caught a mere glimpse of the gentle-
man as they turned up the stairs. A tall, well-built
gentleman, with a grey beard, very well dressed as far
as I could see, with a top hat and a white silk muffler
round his throat, and carrying an umbrella."
"And they went to Marbury's room?" said Rathbury.
"Well, then, Mr. Marbury rang for some whiskey and
soda," continued Mrs. Walters. "He was particular to
have a decanter of whiskey : that, and a syphon of soda
were taken up there. I heard nothing more until nearly
midnight; then the hall-porter told me that the gentle-
man in 20 had gone out, and had asked him if there was
a night-porter — as, of course, there is. He went out at
half -past eleven."
"And the other gentleman?" asked Rathbury.
THE ANGLO-ORIENT HOTEL 41
"The other gentleman," answered the landlady,
"went out with him. The hall-porter said they turned
towards the station. And that was the last anybody
in this house saw of Mr. Marbury. He certainly never
came back. ' '
"That," observed Rathbury with a quiet smile, "that
is quite certain, ma'am? "Well — I suppose we'd better
see this Number 20 room, and have a look at what he left
"Everything," said Mrs. "Walters, "is just as he left
it. Nothing's been touched."
It seemed to two of the visitors that there was little to
touch. On the dressing-table lay a few ordinary articles
of toilet — none of them of any quality or value : the dead
man had evidently been satisfied with the plain necessi-
ties of life. An overcoat hung from a peg: Rathbury,
without ceremony, went through its pockets ; just as un-
ceremoniously he proceeded to examine trunk and bag,
and finding both unlocked, he laid out on the bed every
article they contained and examined each separately and
carefully. And he found nothing whereby he could
gather any clue to the dead owner's identity.
' ' There you are ! " he said, making an end of his task.
"You see, it's just the same with these things as with
the clothes he had on him. There are no papers —
there's nothing to tell who he was, what he was after,
where he'd come from — ^though that we may find out in
other ways. But it's not often that a man travels with-
out some clue to his identity. Beyond the fact that
some of this linen was, you see, bought in Melbourne, we
42 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
know nothing of him. Yet he must have had papers and
money on him. Did you see anything of his money, now,
ma'am?" he asked, suddenly turning to Mrs. Walters.
"Did he pull out his purse in your presence, now?"
"Yes," answered the landlady, with promptitude.
"He came into the bar for a drink after he'd been up
to his room. He pulled out a handful of gold when he
paid for it— a whole handful. There must have been
some thirty to forty sovereigns and half-sovereigns."
"And he hadn't a penny piece on him— when found,"
"I noticed another thing, too," remarked the land-
lady. "He was wearing a very fine gold watch and
chain, and had a splendid ring on his left hand — ^little
finger — gold, with a big diamond in it."
"Yes," said the detective, thoughtfully, "I noticed
that he'd worn a ring, and that it had been a bit tight
for him. Well — now there's only one thing to ask about.
Did your chambermaid notice if he left any torn paper
around — tore any letters up, or anything like that?"
But the chambermaid, pi^oduced, had not noticed any-
thing of the sort; on the contrary, the gentleman of
Number 20 had left his room very tidy indeed. So
Rathbury intimated that he had no more to ask, and
nothing further to say, just then, and he bade the land-
lord and landlady of the Anglo-Orient Hotel good morn-
ing, and went away, followed by the two young men.
"What next?" asked Spargo, as they gained the
"The next thing," answered Rathbury, "is to find
the man with whom Marbury left this hotel last night."
THE ANGLO-ORIENT HOTEL 43
"And how's that to be done?" asked Spargo.
"At present," replied Bathbury, "I don't know."
And with a careless nod, he walked off, apparently de-
sirous of being alone.
SPAEGO WISHES TO SPECIALIZE
The barrister and the journalist, left thus uncere-
moniously on a crowded pavement, looked at each other.
"We don't seem to have gained much information,"
he remarked. "I'm about as wise as ever."
"No — ^wiser," said Spargo. "At any rate, I am. I
know now that this dead man called himself John Mar-
bury ; that he came from Australia ; that he only landed
at Southampton yesterday morning, and that he was in
the company last night of a man whom we have had de-
scribed to us — a tall, grey-bearded, well-dressed man,
presumably a gentleman. ' '
Breton shrugged his shoulders.
"I should say that description would fit a hundred
thousand men in London, ' ' he remarked.
' ' Exactly — so it would, ' ' answered Spargo. ' ' But we
know that it was one of the hundred thousand, or half-
million, if you like. The thing is to find that one — ^the
one. ' '
"And you think you can do it?"
"I think I'm going to have a big try at it."
Breton shrugged his shoulders again.
SPARGO WISHES TO SPECIALIZE 45
"What? — by going up to every man who answers the
description, and saying 'Sir, are you the man who ac-
companied John Marbury to the Agio "
Spargo suddenly interrupted him.
"Look here!" he said. "Didn't you say that you
knew a man who lives in that block in the entry of which
Marbury was found?"
"No, I didn't," answered Breton. "It was Mr.
Elphick who said that. All the same, I do know that
man — he's Mr. Cardlestone, another barrister. He and
Mr. Elphick £tre friends — they're both enthusiastic
philatelists — stamp collectors, you know — and I dare
say Mr. Elphick was round there last night examining
something new Cardlestone 's got hold of. Why?"
"I'd like to go round there and make some enquiries,"
replied Spargo. "If you'd be kind enough to "
"Oh, I'll go with you!" responded Breton, with
alacrity. "I'm just as keen about this business as you
are, Spargo! I want to know who this man Marbury
is, and how he came to have my name and address on
him. Now, if I had been a well-known man in my pro-
fession, you know, why — "
"Yes," said Spargo, as they got into a cab, "yes, that
would have explained a lot. It seems to me that we'll
get at the murderer through that scrap of paper a lot
quicker than through Rathbury's line. Yes, that's what
Breton looked at his companion with interest.
"But — ^you don't know what Rathbury's line is," he
"Yes, I do," said Spargo. "Rathbury's gone off to
46 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
discover who the man is with whom Marbury left the
Anglo-Orient Hotel last night. That's his line."
"And you want ?"
"I want to find out the full significance of that bit of
paper, and who wrote it," answered Spargo. "I want
to know why that old man was coming to you when he
"By Jove!" he exclaimed. "I — I never thought of
that. You — ^you really think he was coming to me when
he was struck down ? ' '
"Certain. Hadn't he got an address in the Temple?
Wasn't he in the Temple? Of course, he was trying to
find you. ' '
"But— the late hour?"
"No matter. How else can you explain his presence
in the Temple? I think he was asking his way. That's
why I want to make some enquiries in this block."
It appeared to Spargo that a considerable number of
people, chiefly of the office-boy variety, were desirous
of making enquiries about the dead man. Being
luncheon-hour, that bit of Middle Temple Lane where
the body was found, was thick with the inquisitive and
the sensation-seeker, for the news of the murder had
spread, and though there was nothing to see but the bare
stones on which the body had lain, there were more open
mouths and staring eyes around the entry than Spargo
had seen for many a day. And the nuisance had be-
come so great that the occupants of the adjacent cham-
bers had sent for a policeman to move the curious away,
and when Spargo and his companion presented them-
SPARGO WISHES TO SPECIALIZE 47
selves at the entry this policeman was being lectured as
to his duties by a little weazen-faced gentleman, in very
snuffy and old-fashioned garments, and an ancient silk
hat, who was obviously greatly exercised by the un-
"Drive them all out into the street!" exclaimed this
personage. "Drive them all away, constable — into
Fleet Street or upon the Embankment — anywhere, so
long as you rid this place of them. This is a disgrace,
and an inconvenience, a nuisance, a "
"That's old Cardlestone, " whispered Breton. "He's
always irascible, and I don't suppose we'll get anything
out of him- Mr. Cardlestone," he continued, making
his way up to the old gentleman who was now retreating
up the stone steps, brandishing an umbrella as ancient
as himself. "I was just coming to see you, sir. This is
Mr. Spargo, a journalist, who is much interested in this
murder. He "
"I know nothing about the murder, my dear sir!" ex-
claimed Mr. Cardlestone. "And I never talk to journal-
ists — a pack of busybodies, sir, saving your presence. I
am not aware that any murder has been committed, and
I object to my doorway being filled by a pack of office
boys and street loungers. Murder indeed! I suppose
the man fell down these steps and broke his neck — drunk,
He opened his outer door as he spoke, and Breton,
with a reassuring smile and a nod at Spargo, followed
him into his chambers on the first landing, motioning the
journalist, to keep at their heels.
"Mr. Elphick tells me that he was with you until a
48 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
late hour last evening, Mr. Cardlestone, " he said. "Of
course, neither of you heard anything suspicious?"
"What should we hear that was suspicious in the
Temple, sir?" demanded Mr. Cardlestone, angrily.
"I hope the Temple is free from that sort of thing, young
Mr. Breton. Your respected guardian and myself had
a quiet evening on our usual peaceful pursuits, and
when he went away all was as quiet as the grave, sir.
What may have gone on in the chambers above and
around me I know not! Fortunately, our walls are
thick, sir — ^substantial. I say, sir, the man probably fell
down and broke his neck. What he was doing here, I
do not presume to say. ' '
"Well, it's guess, you know, Mr. Cardlestone," re-
marked Breton, again winkiag at Spargo. "But all
that was found on this man was a scrap of paper on
which my name and address were written. That's prac-
tically all that was known of him, except that he'd just
arrived from Australia."
Mr. Cardlestone suddenly turned on the young bar-
rister with a sharp, acute glance.
"Eh?" he exclaimed. "What's this? You say this
man had your name and address on him, young Breton !
— ^yours? ilnd that he came from — Australia?"
"That's so," answered Breton. "That's all that's
known. ' '
Mr. Cardlestone put aside his umbrella, produced a
bandanna handkerchief of strong colours, and blew his
nose in a reflective fashion.
"That's a mysterious thing," he observed. "Urn-
does Blphick know all that?"
SPARGO WISHES TO SPECIALIZE 49
Breton looked at Spargo as if he was asking him for an
explanation of Mr. Cardlestone 's altered manner. And
Spargo took up the conversation.
"No," he said. "All that Mr. Elphick knows is that
Mr. Ronald Breton's name and address were on the scrap
of paper found on the body. Mr. Elphick" — here
Spargo paused and looked at Breton — "Mr. Elphick,"
he presently continued, slowly transferring his glance
to the old barrister, "spoke of going to view the
"Ah!" exclaimed Mr. Cardlestone, eagerly, "It can
be seen? Then I'll go and see it. Where is it?"
"But— my dear sir!" he said. "Why?"
Mr. Cardlestone picked up his umbrella again.
"I feel a proper curiosity about a mystery which oc-
curs at my very door," he said. "Also, I have known
more than one man who went to Australia. This might
— I say might, young gentlemen — ^might be a man I had
once known. Show me where this body is. ' '
Breton looked helplessly at Spargo : it was plain that
he did not understand the turn that things were taking.
But Spargo was quick to seize an opportunity. In an-
other minute he was conducting Mr. Cardlestone through
the ins and outs of the Temple towards Blaekfriars.
And as they turned into Tudor Street they encountered
"I am going to the mortuary," he remarked. "So,
I suppose, are you, Cardlestone? Has anything more
been discovered, young man?"
Spargo tried a chance shot — at what he did not know.
60 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"The man's name was Marbury," he said. "He was
He was keeping a keen eye on Mr. Elphick, but he
failed to see that Mr. Elphiek showed any of the sur-
prise which Mr. Cardlestone had exhibited. Rather, he
"Oh?" he said— "Marbury? And from Australia.
Well — I should like to see the body. ' '
Spargo and Breton had to wait outside the mortuary
while the two elder gentlemen went in. There was noth-
ing to be learnt from either when they reappeared.
"We don't know the man," said Mr. Elphick, calmly.
"As Mr. Cardlestone, I understand, has said to you al-
ready — we have known men who went to Australia, and
as this man was evidently wandering about the Temple,
we thought it might have been one of them, come back.
But — ^we don't recognize him."
"Couldn't recognize him," said Mr. Cardlestone.
They went away together arm in arm, and Breton
looked at Spargo.
"As if anybody on earth ever fancied they'd recog-
nize him!" he said. "Well — ^what are you going to do
now, Spargo? I must go."
Spargo, who had been digging his walking-stick into
a crack in the pavement, came out of a fit of abstraction.
" I ? " he said. ' ' Oh— I 'm going to the office. ' ' And
he turned abruptly away, and walking straight off to
the editorial rooms at the Watchman, made for one in
which sat the official guardian of the editor. "Try to
get me a few minutes with the chief," he said.
SPARGO WISHES TO SPECIALIZE 51
The private secretary looked up.
"Really important?" he asked.
"Big!" answered Spargo. "Fix it."
Once closeted with the great man, whose idiosyncrasies
he knew pretty well by that time, Spargo lost no time.
"You've heard about this murder in Middle Temple
Lane?" he suggested.
"The mere facts," replied the editor, tersely.
"I was there when the body was found," continued
Spargo, and gave a brief resume of his doings. "I'm
certain this is a most unusual affair, ' ' he went on. " It 's
as full of mystery as — as it could be. I want to give my
attention to it. I want to specialize on it. I can make
such a story of it as we haven't had for some time — ages.
Let me have it. And to start with, let me have two
columns for tomorrow morning. I '11 make it — big ! ' '
The editor looked across his desk at Spargo 's eager
"Your other work?" he said.
"Well in hand," replied Spargo. "I'm ahead a
whole week — ^both articles and reviews. I can tackle
The editor put his finger tips together.
"Have you got some idea about this, young man?"
"I've got a great idea," answered Spargo. He faced
the great man squarely, and stared at him until he had
brought a smile to the editorial face. "That's why I
want to do it," he added. "And — it's not mere boast-
ing nor over-confidence — I know I shall do it better than
anybody else. ' '
52 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
The editor considered matters for a brief moment.
"You mean to find out who killed this man?" he said
Spargo nodded his head — ^twice.
"I'll find that out," he said doggedly.
The editor picked up a pencil, and bent to his desk.
"All right," he said. "Gro ahead. You shall have
your two columns. "
Spargo went quietly away to his own nook and comer.
He got hold of a block of paper and began to write.
He was going to show how to do things.
WITNESS TO A MEETING
Eonald Breton walked into the Watchman office and
into Spargo's room next morning holding a copy of the
current issue in his hand. He waved it at Sparge with
an enthusiasm which was almost boyish.
"I say!" he exclaimed. "That's the way to do it,
Spargo! I congratulate you. Yes, that's the way —
certain ! ' '
Spargo, idly turning over a pile of exchanges, yawned.
"What way?" he asked indifferently.
"The way you've written this thing up," said Breton.
"It's a hundred thousand times better than the usual
cut-and-dried account of a murder. It's — it's like a —
"Merely a new method of giving news," said Spargo.
He picked up a copy of the Watchmcm, and glanced at
his two columns, which had somehow managed to make
themselves into three, viewing the displayed lettering,
the photograph of the dead man, the line drawing of
the entry in Middle Temple Lane, and the facsimile of
the scrap of grey paper, with a critical eye. "Yes —
merely a new method," he continued. "The question is
— will it achieve its object ? "
"What's the object?" asked Breton.
Spargo fished out a box of cigarettes from an untidy
54 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
drawer, pushed it over to his visitor, ielped himself,
and tilting back his chair, put his feet on his desk.
"The object?" he said, drily. "Oh, well, the object
is the ultimate detection of the murderer. ' '
"You're after that?"
"I'm after that— just that."
"And not — not simply out to make eflfeetive news?"
"I'm out to find the murderer of John Marbury,"
said Spargo deliberately slow in his speech. "And 111
"Well, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of
clues, so far," remarked Breton. "I see — ^nothing. Do
Spargo sent a spiral of scented smoke into the air.
"I want to know an awful lot," he said. "I'm hun-
gering for news. I want to know who John Marbury
is. I want to know what he did with himself between
the time when he walked out of the Anglo-Orient Hotel,
alive and well, and the time when he was found in Mid-
dle Temple Lane, with his skull beaten in and dead. I
want to know where he got that scrap of paper. Above
everything, Breton, I want to know what he 'd got to do
He gave the young barrister a keen look, and Breton
"Yes," he said. "I confess that's a corker. But I
"Well?" said Spargo.
"I think he may have been a man who had some legal
business in hand, or in prospect, and had be^n recom-
mended to— me," said Breton.
WITNESS TO A MEETING 55
Spargo smiled — a little sardonically.
"That's good!" he said. "You had your very first
brief — ^yesterday. Come — your fame isn 't blown abroad
through all the heights yet, my friend! Besides — don't
intending clients approach — isn't it strict etiquette for
them to approach? — ^barristers through solicitors?"
"Quite right — in both your remarks," replied Breton,
good-humouredly. "Of course, I'm not known a bit,
but all the same I've known several cases where a bar-
rister has been approached iu the first instance and asked
to recommend a solicitor. Somebody who wanted to
do me a good turn may have given this man my ad-
dress. ' '
"Possible," said Spargo. "But he wouldn't have
come to consult you at midnight. Breton ! — the more I
think of it, the more I'm certain there's a tremendous
mystery in this affair! That's why I got the chief to
let me write it up as I have done — here. I'm hoping
that this photograph — though to be sure, it's of a dead
face — and this facsimile of the scrap of paper will lead
to somebody coming forward who can "
Just then one of the uniformed youths who hang
about the marble pillared vestibule of the Waichman
office came into the room with the unmistakable look and
air of one who carries news of moment.
"I dare lay a sovereign to a cent that I know what
this is, ' ' muttered Spargo in an aside. ' ' Well ? " he said
to the boy. "What is it?"
The messenger came up to the desk.
"Mr. Spargo," he said, "there's a man downstairs
who says that he wants to see somebody about that mur-
56 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
der case that's in the paper this morning, sir. Mr. Bar-
rett said I was to come to you."
"Who is the man?" asked Spargo.
"Won't say, sir," replied the boy. "I gave him a
form to fill up, but he said he wouldn 't write anything
— said all he wanted was to see the man who wrote the
piece in the paper."
' ' Bring him here, ' ' commanded Spargo. He turned to
Breton when the boy had gone, and he smiled. "I knew
we should have somebody here sooner or later," he said.
"That's why I hurried over my breakfast and came down
at ten o'clock. Now then, what will you bet on the
chances of this chap 's information proving valuable ? ' '
"Nothing," replied Breton. "He's probably some
crank or faddist who's got some theory that he wants
The man who was presently ushered in by the messen-
ger seemed from preliminary and outward appearance
to justify Breton's prognostication. He was obviously
a countryman, a tall, loosely-built, middle-aged man, yel-
low of hair, blue of eye, who was wearing his Sunday-
best array of pearl-grey trousers and black coat, and
sported a necktie in which were several distinct colours.
Oppressed with the splendour and grandeur of the
Wcdchman building, he had removed his hard billycock
hat as he followed the boy, and he ducked his bared head
at the two young men as he stepped on to the thick pile
of the carpet which made luxurious footing in Spargo 's
room. His blue eyes, opened to their widest, looked
round him in astonishment at the sumptuousness of
modern newspaper-office accommodation.
WITNESS TO A MEETING 57
"How do you do, sir?" said Spargo, pointing a finger
to one of the easy-chairs for which the Watchman office
is famous. "I understand that you wish to see me?"
The caller ducked his yellow head again, sat down on
the edge of the chair, put his hat on the floor, picked it
up again, and endeavoured to hang it on his knee, and
looked at Spargo innocently and shyly.
"What I want to see, sir," he observed in a rustic
accent, "is the gentleman as wrote that piece in your
newspaper about this here murder in Middle Temple
"You see him," said Spargo. "I am that man."
The caller smiled — generously.
"Indeed, sir?" he said. "A very nice bit of reading,
I'm sure. And what might your name be, now, sir?
I can always talk free-er to a man when I know what
his name is. ' '
"So can I," answered Spargo. "My name is Spargo
— Frank Spargo. What 's yours ? ' '
"Name of Webster, sir — ^William Webster. I farm
at One Ash Farm, at Gosberton, in Oakshire. Me and
my wife," continued Mr. Webster, again smiling and
distributing his smile between both his hearers, "is at
present in London on a holiday. And very pleasant we
find it — ^weather and all."
"That's right," said Spargo. "And — you wanted to .
see me about this murder, Mr. Webster?"
"I did, sir. Me, I believe, knowing, as I think, some-
thing that'll do for you to put in your paper. You see,
Mr. Spargo, it come about in this fashion — happen you'll
be for me to tell it in my own way."
58 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"That," answered Spargo, "is precisely what I de-
"Well, to be sure, I couldn't tell it in no other,"
declared Mr. Webster. "You see, sir, I read your paper
this morning while I was waiting for my breakfast —
they take their breakfasts so late in them hotels — Mid
when I'd read it, and looked at the pictures, I says to
my wife 'As soon as I've had my breakfast,' I says, 'I'm
going to where they print this newspaper to teU 'em
something.' 'Aye?' she says, 'Why, what have you to
tell, I should like to know?' just like that, Mr. Spargo."
"Mrs. Webster," said Spargo, "is a lady of business-
like principles. And what have you to tell?"
Mr. Webster looked into the crown of his hat, looked
out of it, and smiled knowingly.
"Well, sir," he continued, "Last night, my wife, she
went out to a part they call Clapham, to take her tea
and supper with an old friend of hers as lives there,
and as they wanted to have a bit of woman-talk, like, I
didn't go. So thinks I to myself, I'll go and see this
here House of Commons. There was a neighbour of
mine as had told me that all you'd got to do was to tell
the policeman at the door that you wanted to see your
own Member of Parliament. So when I got there I told
'em that I wanted to see our M.P., Mr. Stonewood —
you'll have heard tell of him, no doubt; he knows me
very well — and they passed me, and I wrote out a ticket
for him, and they told me to sit down while they found
him. So I sat down in a grand sort of hall where there
were a rare lot of people going and coming, and some
fine pictures and images to look at, and for a time I
WITNESS TO A MEETING 59
looked at them, and then I began to take a bit of notice
of the folk near at hand, waiting, you know, like myself.
And as sure as I 'm a christened man, sir, the gentleman
whose picture you've got in your paper — ^him as was
murdered — was sitting next to me ! I knew that picture
as soon as I saw it this morning."
Spargo, who had been making unmeaning scribbles
on a block of paper, suddenly looked at his visitor.
"What time was that?" he asked.
"It was between a quarter and half -past nine, sir,"
answered Mr. Webster. "It might ha' been twenty past
— it might ha' been twenty-five past."
"Go on, if you please," said Spargo.
"Well, sir, me and this here dead gentleman talked
a bit. About what a long time it took to get a member
to attend to you, and such-like. I made mention of the
fact that I hadn't been in there before. 'Neither have
I !* he says, 'I came in out of curiosity,' he says, and then
he laughed, sir — queer-like. And it was just after that
that what I'm going to tell you about happened."
"Tell," commanded Spargo.
"Well, sir, there was a gentleman came along, down
this grand hall that we were sitting in — a tall, handsome
gentleman, with a grey beard. He'd no hat on, and he
was carrying a lot of paper and documents in his hand,
so I thought he was happen one of the members. And
all of a sudden this here man at my side, he jumps up
with a sort of start and an exclamation, and ^"
Spargo lifted his hand. He looked keenly at his vis-
"Now, you're absolutely sure about what you heard
60 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
him exclaim?" he asked. "Quite sure about it? Be-
cause I see you are going to tell us what he did exclaim. "
"I'll tell you naught but what I'm certain of, sir,"
replied Webster. "What he said as he jumped up was
'Good God!' he says, sharp-like— and then he said a
name, and I didn't right catch it, but it sounded like
Danesworth, or Painesworth, or something of that sort —
one of them there, or very like 'em, at any rate. And
then he rushed up to this here gentleman, and laid his
hand on his arm — sudden-like."
"And — the gentleman?" asked Spargo, quietly.
"Well, he seemed taken aback, sir. He jumped.
Then he stared at the man. Then they shook hands.
And then, after they'd spoken a few words together-like,
they walked off, talking. And, of course, I never saw
no more of 'em. But when I saw your paper this morn-
ing, sir, and that picture in it, I said to myself 'That's
the man I sat next to in that there hall at the House of
Commons ! ' Oh, there 's no doubt of it, sir ! ' '
"And supposing you saw a photograph of the tall
gentleman with the grey beard?" suggested Spargo.
"Could you recognize him from that?"
"Make no doubt of it, sir," answered Mr. Webster.
' ' I observed him particular. ' '
Spargo rose, and going over to a cabinet, took from it
a thick volume, the leaves of which he turned over for
"Come here, if you please, Mr. Webster," he said.
The farmer went across the room.
"There is a full set of photographs of members of
the present House of Commons here," said Spai^o.
WITNESS TO A MEETING 61
"Now, pick out the one you saw. Take your time — and
He left his caller turning over the album and went
back to Breton.
"There!" he whispered. "Getting nearer — a bit
nearer — eh ? ' '
' ' To what ? ' ' asked Breton. " I don 't see ' '
A sudden exclamation from the farmer interrupted
"This is him, sir!" answered Mr. Webster. "That's
the gentleman — know him anywhere!"
The two young men crossed the room. The farmer
was pointing a stubby finger to a photograph, beneath
which was written Stephen Aylmore, Esq., M.P. for
Spargo, keenly observant and watchful, felt, rather
than saw, Breton start; he himself preserved an im-
perturbable equanimity. He gave a mere glance at the
photograph to which Mr. Webster was pointing.
"Oh!" he said. "That he?"
' ' That 's the gentleman, sir, ' ' repli ed Webster. ' ' Done
to the life, that is. No difficulty in recognizing of that,
' ' You 're absolutely sure ? ' ' demanded Spargo. ' ' There
are a lot of men in the House of Commons, you know,
who wear beards, and many of the beards are grey. ' '
But Webster wagged his head.
' ' That 's him, sir ! " he repeated. " I 'm as sure of that
as I am that my name's William Webster. That's the
man I saw talking to him whose picture you've got in
your paper. Can't say no more, sir."
"Very good," said Spargo. "I'm much obliged to
you. I'll see Mr. Aylmore. Leave me your address in
London, Mr. Webster. How long do you remain in
"My address is the Beachcroft Hotel, Bloomsbury,
sir, and I shall be there for another week," answered the
farmer. "Hope I've been of some use, Mr. Spargo.
As I says to my wife "
MR. AYLMORE 63
Spai^o cut his visitor short in polite fashion and
bowed him out. He turned to Breton, who still stood
staring at the album of portraits.
' ' There !— what did I teU you ? " he said. ' ' Didn 't I
say I should get some news? There it is."
Breton nodded his head. He seemed thoughtful.
' ' Yes, ' ' he agreed. ' ' Yes, I say, Spargo ! ' '
"Mr. Aylmore is my prospective father-in-law, you
"Quite aware of it. Didn't you introduce me to his
daughters — only yesterday ? ' '
"But — how did you know they were his daughters?"
Spargo laughed as he sat down to his desk.
"Instinct — intuition," he answered. "However,
never mind that, just now. Well — I 've found something
out. Marbury — if that is the dead man 's real name, and
anyway, it's all we know him by — ^was in the company
of Mr. Aylmore that night. Good!"
"What are you going to do about it?" asked Breton.
"Do? See Mr. Aylmore, of course."
He was turning over the leaves of a telephone address-
book; one hand had already picked up the mouthpiece
of the instrument on his desk.
"Look here," said Breton. "I know where Mr. Ayl-
more is always to be found at twelve o'clock. At the
A. and P. — the Atlantic and Pacific Club, you know, in
St. James's. If you like, I'll go with you."
Spargo glanced at the clock and laid down the tele-
"All right," he said. "Eleven o'clock, now. I've
64 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
something to do. I'll meet you outside the A. and P.
at exactly noon."
"I'll be there," agreed Breton. He made for the
door, and with his hand on it, turned. "What do you
expect from — from what we've just heard?" he asked.
Spargo shrugged his shoulders.
"Wait— until we hear what Mr. Aylmore has to say,"
he answered. "I suppose this man Marbury was some
old acquaintance. ' '
Breton closed the door and went away: left alone,
Spargo began to mutter to himself.
"Good God!" he says. "Dainsworth — ^Painsworth —
something of that sort — one of the two. Excellent — ^that
our farmer friend should have so much observation.
Ah! — and why should Mr. Stephen Aylmore be recog-
nized as Dainsworth or Painsworth or something of that
sort. Now, who is Mr. Stephen Aylmore — beyond being
what I know him to be ? "
Spargo 's fingers went instinctively to one of a number
of books of reference which stood on his desk: they
turned with practised swiftness to a page over which his
eye ran just as swiftly. He read aloud:
"Aylmore, Stephen, M.P. for Brookminster since
1910. Residences: 23, St. Osythe Court, Kensington:
Buena Vista, Great Marlow. Member Atlantic and Pa-
cific and City Venturers' Clubs. Interested in South
"Um!" muttered Spargo, putting the book away.
"That's not very illuminating. However, we've got one
move finished. Now we'll make another."
Going over to the album of photographs, Spargo deftly
MR. AYLMORE 65
emoved that of Mr. Aylmore, put it in an envelope and
he envelope in his pocket and, leaving the office, hailed
taxi-cab, and ordered its driver to take him to the
inglo-Orient Hotel. This was the something-to-do of
?hich he had spoken to Breton : Spargo wanted to do it
Mrs. Walters was in her low-windowed office when
Ipargo entered the hall ; she recognized him at once and
lotioned him into her parlour.
' ' I remember you, ' ' said Mrs. "Walters ; ' ' you came with
lie detective — Mr. Rathbury."
' ' Have you seen him, since 1 ' ' asked Spargo.
"Not since," replied Mrs. "Walters. "No — and I was
randering if he'd be coming round, because " She
aused there and looked at Spargo with particular en-
uiry — "You're a friend of his, aren't you?" she asked.
I suppose vou know as much as he does — about this ? ' '
"He and I," replied Spargo, with easy confidence,
are working this case together. You can tell me any-
tiing you'd tell him."
The landlady rummaged in her pocket and produced
n old purse, from an inner compartment of which she
rought out a small object wrapped in tissue paper.
""Well," she said, unwrapping the paper, "we found
lis in Number 20 this morning — it was lying under the
ressing-table. The girl that found it brought it to me,
Qd I thought it was a bit of glass, but "Walters, he says
3 how he shouldn't be surprised if it's a diamond. And
nee we found it, the waiter who took the whisky up to
O, after Mr. Marbury came in with the other gentleman,
as told me that when he went into the room the two
66 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
gentlemen were looking at a paper full of things like
this. So there?"
Spargo fingered the shining bit of stone.
' ' That 's a diamond— right enough, ' ' he said. ' ' Put it
away, Mrs. Walters— I shall see Rathbury presently, and
I'll tell him about it. Now, that other gentleman ! You
told us you saw him. Could you recognize him— I mean,
a photograph of him? Is this the man?"
Spargo knew from the expression of Mrs. Walters'
face that she had no more doubt than Webster had.
"Oh, yes!" she said. "That's the gentleman who
came in with Mr. Marbury — I should have known him in
a thousand. Anybody would recognize him from that —
perhaps you'd let our hall-porter and the waiter I men-
tioned just now look at it ? "
"I'll see them separately and see if they've ever seen
a man who resembles this," replied Spargo.
The two men recognized the photograph at once, with-
out any prompting, and Spargo, after a word or two
with the landlady, rode off to the Atlantic and Pacific
Club, and found Ronald Breton awaiting him on the
steps. He made no reference to his recent doings, and
together they went into the house and asked for Mr.
. Spargo looked with more than uncommon interest at
the man who presently came to them in the visitors'
room. He was already familiar with Mr. Aylmore 's
photograph, but he never remembered seeing him in real
life ; the Member for Brookminster was one of that rap-
idly diminishing body of legislators whose members are
disposed to work quietly and unobtrusively, doing yeo-
MR. AYLMORE 67
man service on committees, obeying eveiry behest of the
party whips, without forcing themselves into the lime-
light or seizing every opportunity to air their opinions.
Now that Spargo met him in the flesh he proved to be
pretty much what the journalist had expected — a rather
eold-mannered, self-contained man, who looked as if he
had been brought up in a school of rigid repression, and
taught not to waste words. He showed no more than the
merest of languid interests in Spargo when Breton in-
troduced him, and his face was quite expressionless when
Spargo brought to an end his brief explanation — pur-
posely shortened — of his object in calling upon him.
"Yes," he said indifferently. "Yes, it is quite true
that I met Marbury and spent a little time with him on
the evening your informant spoke of. I met him, as he
told you, in the lobby of the House. I was much sur-
prised to meet him. I had not seen him for — I really
don't know how many years."
He paused and looked at Spargo as if he was wonder-
ing "what hei ought or not to say to a newspaper man.
Spargo remained silent, waiting. And presently Mr.
Aylmore went on.
"I read your account in the Watchman this morn-
ing," he said. "I was wondering, when you called just
now, if I would communicate with you or -with the police.
The fact is— I suppose you want this for your paper,
eh?" he continued after a sudden breaking off.
"I shall not print anything that you wish me not to
print," answered Spargo. "If you care to give me any
' ' Oh, well ! ' ' said Mr. Aylmore, " I don 't mind. The
68 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
fact is, I knew next to nothing. Marbury was a man
with whom I had some — ^well, business relations, of a
sort, a great many years ago. It must be twenty years
— perhaps more — since I lost sight of him. When he
came up to me in the lobby the other night, I had to
make an effort of memory to recall him. He wished me,
having once met me, to give him some advice, and as
there was little doing in the House that night, and as he
had once been — almost a friend — I walked to his hotel
with him, chatting. He told me that he had only landed
from Australia that morning, and what he wanted my
advice about, principally, was — diamonds. Australian
. "I was unaware," remarked Spargo, "that diamonds
were ever found in Australia. ' '
Mr. Aylmore smiled — a little cynically.
"Perhaps so," he said. "But diamonds have been
found in Australia from time to time, ever since Aus-
tralia was known to Europeans, and in the opinion of
experts, they will eventually be found there in quan-
tity. Anyhow, Marbury had got hold of some Aus-
tralian diamonds, and he showed them to me at his hotel
— a number of them. We examined them in his room. ' '
"What did he do with them — afterwards?" asked
"He put them in his waistcoat pocket — in a very small
wash-leather bag, from which he had taken them. There
were, in all, sixteen or twenty stones — not more, and
they were all small. I advised him to see some expert
— I mentioned Streeter's to him. Now, I can tell you
tow he got hold of Mr, Breton's address."
MR. AYLMORE 69
The two young men pricked up their ears. Spargo
nconsciously tightened his hold on the pencil with
fhich he was making notes.
"He got it from me," continued Mr. Aylmore. "The
andwriting on the scrap of paper is mine, hurriedly
erawled. He wanted legal advice. As I knew very
ttle about lawyers, I told him that if he called on Mr.
Sreton, Mr. Breton would be able to tell him of a first-
lass, sharp solicitor. I wrote down Mr. Breton's ad-
ress for him, on a "crap of paper which he tore off a
3tter that he took from his pocket. By the by, I ob-
erve that when his body was found there was nothing
n it in the shape of papers or money. I am quite sure
hat when I left him he had a lot of gold on him, those
iamonds, and a breast-pocket full of letters."
"Where did you leave him, sir?" asked Spargo.
You left the hotel together, I believe?"
"Yes. We strolled along when we left it. Having
nee met, we had much, to talk of, and it was a fine
ight. We walked across Waterloo Bridge and very
liortly afterwards he left me. And that is really all I
now. My own impression " He paused for a mo-
lent and Spargo waited silently.
"My own impression — though I confess it may seem
> have no very solid grounds — is that Marbury was de-
ayed to where he was found, and was robbed and mur-
ered by some person who knew he had valuables on
im. There is the fact that he was robbed, at any rate. ' '
"I've had a notion," said Breton, diffidently.
Mayn't be worth much, but I've had it, all the same,
ome fellow-passenger of Marbury 's may have tracked
70 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
him all day — Middle Temple Lane's pretty lonely at
night, you know."
No one made -any comment upon this suggestion, and
on Spargo looking at Mr. Aylmore, the Member of Par-
liament rose and glanced at the door.
"Well, that's all I can tell you, Mr. Spargo," he said.
"You see, it's not much, after all. Of course, there'll
be an inquest on Marbury, and I shall have to re-tell it.
But you're welcome to print what 7've told you."
Spargo left Breton with his future father-in-law and
went away towards New Scotland Yard. He and Rath-
bury had promised to share news — now he had some to
THE MAN PROM THE SAFE DEPOSIT
Spargo found Rathbury sitting alone in a small, some-
what dismal apartment which was chiefly remarkable for
the business-like paucity of its furnishings and its in-
iefinable air of secrecy. There was a plain writing-
table and a hard chair or two ; a map of London, much
discoloured, on the wall; a few faded photographs of
eminent 'bands in the world of crime, and a similar num-
ber of well-thumbed books of refierence. The detective
Limself, when Spargo was shown in to him, was seated at
the table, chewing an unlighted cigar, and engaged in the
apparently aimless task of drawing hieroglyphics on
scraps of paper. He looked up as the journalist entered,
and held out his hand.
"Well, I congratulate you on what you stuck in the
Watchman this morning," he said. "Made extra good
reading, I thought. They did right to let you tackle
that job. Going straight through with it now, I sup-
pose, Mr. Spargo?"
Spargo dropped into the chair nearest to Rathbury 's
right hand. He lighted a cigarette, and having blown
3ut a whiff of smoke, nodded his head in a fashion which
indicated that the detective might consider his question
answered in the afiSrmative.
"Look here," he said. "We settled yesterday, didn't
72 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
we, that you and I are to consider ourselves partners, as
it were, in this job? That's all right," he continued,
as Rathbury nodded very quietly. "Very well — ^have
you made any further progress?"
Rathbury put his thumbs in the armholes of his waist-
coat and, leaning back in his chair, shook his head.
"Frankly, I haven't," he replied. "Of course,
there 's a lot being done in the usual official-routine way.
We've men out making various enquiries. We're en-
quiring about Marbury's voyage to England. All that
we know up to now is that he was certainly a passenger
on a liner which landed at Southampton in accordance
with what he told those people at the Anglo-Orient, that
he left the ship in the usual way and was understood to
take the train to town — as he did. That's all. There's
nothing in that. We've cabled to Melbourne for any
news of him from there. But I expect little from that."
"All right," said Spargo. "And — ^what are you do-
ing — ^you, yourself? Because, if we're to share facts, I
must know what my partner's after. Just now, you
seemed to be — drawing. ' '
"Well, to tell you the truth," he said, "when I want
to work things out, I come into this room — it's quiet, as
you see — and I scribble anything on paper while I think.
I was figuring on my next step, and "
"Do you see it?" asked Spargo, quickly.
"Well — I want to find the man who went with Mar-
bury to that hotel," replied Rathbury. "It seems to
Spargo wagged his finger at his fellow-contriver.
THE MAN FROM THE SAFE DEPOSIT 73
"I've found him," he said. "That's what I wrote
that article for — to find him. I knew it would find him.
I 've never had any training in your sort of work, but I
knew that article would get him. And it has got him. ' '
Rathbury accorded the journalist a look of admira-
"Good!" he said. "And— who is he?"
"I'll tell you the story," answered Spargo, "and
in a summary. This morning a man named Webster,
a farmer, a visitor to London, came to me at the ofiSce,
and said that being at the House of Commons last night
he witnessed a meeting between Marbury and a man who
was evidently a Member of Parliament, and saw them
go away together. I showed him an album of photo-
graphs of the present members, and he immediately rec-
ognised the portrait of one of them as the man in ques-
tion. I thereupon took the portrait to the Anglo-Orient
Hotel — Mrs. Walters also at once recognized it as that
of the man who came to the hotel with Marbury, stopped
with him a while in his room, and left with him. The
man is Mr. Stephen Aylmore, the member for Brook-
minster. ' '
Rathbury expressed his feelings in a sharp whistle.
"I know him!" he said. "Of course — I remember
Mrs. Walters 's description now. But his is a familiar
type — tall, grey-bearded, well-dressed. Um! — ^well,
we'll have to see Mr. Aylmore at once."
"I've seen him," said Spargo. "Naturally! For
you see, Mrs. Walters gave me a bit more evidence.
This morning they found a loose diamond on the floor
of Number 20, and after it was found the waiter who
74. THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
took the drinks up to Marbury and his guest that night
remembered that when he entered the room the two
gentlemen were looking at a paper full of similar objects.
So then I went on to see Mr. Aylmore. You know young
Breton, the barrister? — you met him with me, you re-
member ? ' '
"The young fellow whose name and address were
found on Marbury, ' ' replied Eathbury. ' ' I remember. ' '
"Breton is engaged to Aylmore 's daughter," con-
tinued Spargo. "Breton took me to Aylmore 's club.
And Aylmore gives a plain, straightforward account of
the matter which he's granted me leave to print. It
clears up a lot of things. Aylmore knew Marbury over
twenty years ago. He lost sight of him. They met ac-
cidentally in the lobby of the House on the evening pre-
ceding the murder. Marbury told him that he wanted
his advice about those rare things, Australian diamonds.
He went back with him to his hotel and spent a while
with him ; then they walked out together as far as Water-
loo Bridge, where Aylmore left him and went home.
Further, the scrap of grey paper is accounted for. Mar-
bury wanted the address of a smart solicitor ; Aylmore .
didn't know of one but told Marbury that if he called
on young Breton, he'd know, and would put him in the
way to find one. Marbury wrote Breton's address down.
That's Aylmore 's story. But it's got an important ad-
dition. Aylmore says that when he left Marbury, Mar-
bury had on him a quantity of those diamonds in a wash-
leather bag, a lot of gold, and a breast-pocket full of let-
ters and papers. Now — there was nothing on him when
he was found dead in Middle Temple Lane."
THE MAN FROM THE SAFE DEPOSIT 75
Spargo stopped and lighted a fresh cigarette.
"That's all I know," he said. "What do you make
Rathbury leaned back in his chair in his apparently
favourite attitude and stared hard at the dusty ceiling
"Don't know," he said. "It brings things up to a
point, certainly. Aylmore and Marbury parted at
Waterloo Bridge — ^very late. Waterloo Bridge is pretty
well next door to the Temple. But — how did Marbury
get into the Temple, unobserved? We've made every
enquiry, and we can't trace him in any way as regards
that movement. There's a clue for his going there in
the scrap of paper bearing Breton's address, but even
a Colonial would know that no business was done in the
Temple at midnight, eh?"
"Well," said Spargo, "I've thought of one or two
things. He may have been one of those men who like
to wander around at night. He may have seen — he
would see — plenty of lights in the Temple at that hour ;
he may have slipped in unobserved — it's possible, it's
quite possible. I once had a moonlight saunter in the
Temple myself after midnight, and had no difiSculty
about walking in and out, either. But — if Marbury was
murdered for the sake of what he had on him — how did
ie meet with his murderer or murderers in there ? Crim-
inals don't hang about Middle Temple Lane."
The detective shook his head. He picked up his pencil
and began making more hieroglyphics.
"What's your theory, Mr. Spargo?" he asked sud-
ienly. "I suppose you've got one."
76 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"Have you?" asked Spargo, bluntly.
"Well," returned Rathbury, hesitatingly, "I hadn't,
up to now. But now — ^now, after what you've told me,
I think I can make one. It seems to me that after Mar-
bury left Aylmore he probably mooned about by himself,
that he was decoyed into the Temple, and was there
murdered and robbed. There are a lot of queer ins and
outs, nooks and comers in that old spot, Mr. Spargo,
and the murderer, if he knew his ground well, could
easily hide himself until he could get away in the morn-
ing. He might be a man who had access to chambers or
offices — think how easy it would be for such a man, hav-
ing once killed and robbed his victim, to lie hid for hours
afterwards? For aught we know, the man who mur-
dered Marbury may have been within twenty feet of you
when you first saw his dead body that morning. Eh?"
Before Spargo could reply to this suggestion an of-
ficial entered the room and whispered a few words in the
"Show him in at once," said Rathbury. He turned
to Spargo as the man quitted the room and smiled sig-
nificantly. "Here's somebody wants to tell something
about the Marbury case," he remarked. "Let's hope
it'll be news worth hearing."
Spargo smiled in his queer fashion.
"It strikes me that you've only got to interest an in-
quisitive public in order to get news," he said. "The
principal thing is to investigate it when youVe got it.
Who's this, now?"
The official had returned with a dapper-looking gentle-
man in a frock-coat and silk hat, bearing upon him the
THE MAN FROM THE SAFE DEPOSIT 77
unmistakable stamp of the city man, who inspected Rath-
bury with deliberation and Spargo with a glance, and be-
ing seated turned to the detective as undoubtedly the
person he desired to converse with.
"I understand that you are the officer in charge of
the Marbury murder case," he observed. "I believe I
can give you some valuable information in respect to
that. I read the account of the affair in the Watchman
newspaper this morning, and saw the portrait of the
murdered man there, and I was at first inclined to go to
the Watchman office with my information, but I finally
decided to approach the police instead of the Press, re-
garding the police as being more — more responsible. ' '
"Much obliged to you, sir," said Rathbury, with a
glance at Spargo. "Whom have I the pleasure of "
"My name," replied the visitor, drawing out and lay-
ing down a card, "is Myerst — Mr. E. P. Myerst, Secre-
tary of the London and Universal Safe Deposit Com-
pany. I may, I suppose, speak with confidence," con-
tinued Mr. Myerst, with a side-glance at Spargo. "My
information is — confidential. ' '
Rathbury inclined his head and put his fingers to-
"You may speak with every confidence, Mr. Myerst,"
he answered. "If what you have to tell has any real
bearing on the Marbury case, it will probably have to
be repeated in public, you know, sir. But at present it
will be treated as private."
"It has a very real bearing on the case, I should say,"
replied Mr. Myerst. "Yes, I should decidedly say so.
The fact is that on June 21st at about— to be precise—
78 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
three o'clock in the afternoon, a stranger, who gave the
name of John Marbury, and his present address as the
Anglo-Orient Hotel, Waterloo, called at our establish-
ment, and asked if he could rent a small safe. He ex-
plained to me that he desired to deposit in such a safe
a small leather box — which, by the by, was of remark-
ably ancient appearance — that he had brought with him.
I showed him a safe such as he wanted, informed him
of the rent, and of the rules of the place, and he engaged
the safe, paid the rent for one year in advance, and de-
posited his leather box — an affair of about a foot square
— there and then. After that, having exchanged a re-
mark or two about the altered conditions of London,
which, I understood him to say, he had not seen for a
great many years, he took his key and his departure. I
think there can be no doubt about this being the Mr.
Marbury who was found murdered."
"None at all, I should say, Mr. Myerst," said Rath-
bury. "And I'm much obliged to you for coming here.
Now you might tell me a little more, sir. Did Marbury
tell you anything about the contents of the box ? ' '
"No. He merely remarked that he wished the great-
est care to be taken of it, ' ' replied the secretary.
"Didn't give you any hint as to what was in it?"
"None. But he was very particular to assure himself
that it could not be burnt, nor burgled, nor otherwise
molested," replied Mr. Myerst. "He appeared to be
greatly relieved when he found that it was impossible
for anyone but himself to take his property from his
THE MAN FROM THE SAFE DEPOSIT 79
"Ah!" said Rathbury, winking at Spargo. "So he
would, no doubt. And Marbury himself, sir, now?
How did he strike you?"
Mr. Myerst gravely considered this question.
"Mr. Marbury struck me," he answered at last, "as
a man who had probably seen strange places. And be-
fore leaving he made, what I will term, a remarkable re-
mark. About — in fact, about his leather box."
"His leather box?" said Rathbury. "And what was
' ' This, ' ' replied the secretary. ' ' ' That box, ' he said,
'is safe now. But it's been safer. It's been buried —
and deep-down, too — for many and many a year!' "
THE DEALER IN RARE STAMPS
"Buried — and deep-down, too — for many and many a
year," repeated Mr. Myerst, eyeing his companions with
keen glances. "I consider that, gentlemen, a very re-
markable remark — very remarkable ! ' '
Rathbury stuck his thumbs in the armholes of his
waistcoat again and began swaying backwards and for-
wards in his chair. He looked at Spargo. And with
his knowledge of men, he knew that all Spargo 's journal-
istic instincts had been aroused, and that he was keen
as mustard to be off on a new scent.
"Remarkable — remarkable, Mr. Myerst!" he assented.
"What do you say, Mr. Spargo?"
Spargo turned slowly, and for the first time since
Myerst had entered made a careful inspection of him.
The inspection lasted several seconds ; then Spargo spoke.
"And what did you say to that?" he asked quietly.
Myerst looked from his questioner to Rathbury. And
Rathbury thought it time to enlighten the caller.
"I may as well tell you, Mr. Myerst," he said smil-
ingly, "that this is Mr. Spargo, of the Watchman. Mr.
Spargo wrote the article about the Marbury case of which
you spoke when you came in. Mr. Spargo, you'll gather,
THE DEALER IN RARE STAMPS 81
is deeply interested in this matter — and he and I, in our
different capacities, are working together. So — ^you un-
Myerst regarded Spargo in a new light. And while
he was so looking at him, Spargo repeated the question
he had just put.
"I said— What did you say to that?"
"Well — er — I don't think I said anything," he re-
plied. "Nothing that one might call material, you
know. ' '
"Didn't ask him what he meant?" suggested Spargo.
"Oh, no — not at all," replied Myerst.
Spargo got up abruptly from his chair.
"Then you missed one of the finest opportunities I
ever heard of!" he said, half-sneeringly. "You might
have heard such a story "
He paused, as if it were not worth while to continue,
and turned to Rathbury, who was regarding him with
"Look here, Rathbury," he said. "Is it possible to
get that box opened ? ' '
"It'll have to be opened," answered Rathbury, rising.
"It's got to be opened. It probably contains the clue
we want. I'm going to ask Mr. Myerst here to go with
me just now to take the first steps about having it opened.
I shall have to get an order. We may get the matter
through today, but at any rate we'll have it done tomor-
"Can you arrange for me to be present when that
comes off?" asked Spargo. "You can— certain?
82 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
That's all right, Rathbury. Now I'm off, and you'll
ring me up or come round if you hear anything, and I'll
do the same by you."
And without further word, Spargo went quickly away,
and just as quickly returned to the Watchman office.
There the assistant who had been told off to wait upon
his orders during this new crusade met him with a busi-
"This gentleman came in to see you about an hour
ago, Mr. Spargo," he said. "He thinks he can tell you
something about the Marbury affair, and he said that
as he couldn't wait, perhaps you'd step round to his
place when you came in."
Spargo took the card and read :
Me. James Cbiedir,
Dealer in Philatelic Rarities,
Spargo put the card in his waistcoat pocket and went
out again, wondering why Mr. James Criedir could not,
would not, or did not call himself a dealer in rare postage
stamps, and so use plain English. He went up Fleet
Street and soon found the shop indicated on the card,
and his first glance at its exterior showed that whatever
business might have been done by Mr. Criedir in the
past at that establishment there was to be none done there
in the future by him, for there were newly-printed bills
in the window announcing that the place was to let.
And inside he found a short, portly, elderly man who
was superintending the packing-up and removal of the
THE DEALER IN RARE STAMPS 83
last of his stock. He turned a bright, enquiring eye on
"Mr. Criedir?" said Spargo.
"The same, sir," answered the philatelist. "You
' ' Mr. Spargo, of the Watchman. You called on me. ' '
Mr. Criedir opened the door of a tiny apartment at the
rear of the very little shop and motioned his caller to
enter. He followed him in and carefully closed the
"Glad to see you, Mr. Spargo," he said genially.
' ' Take a seat, sir — I 'jp. all in confusion here — giving up
business, you see. Yes, I called on you. I think, having
read the Watchman account of that Marbury affair, and
having seen the murdered man's photograph in your
columns, that I can give you a bit of information. ' '
"Material?" asked Spargo, tersely.
Mr. Criedir cocked one of his bright eyes at his visitor.
He coughed drily.
"That's for you to decide — ^when you've heard it,"
he said. "I should say, considering everything, that it
was material. Well, it's this — I kept open until yester-
day---everything as usual, you know — stock in the win-
dow and so on — ^so that anybody who was passing would
naturally have thought that the business was going on,
though as a matter of fact, I'm retiring — retired," added
Mr. Criedir with a laugh, "last night. Now— but won't
you take down what I've got to tell you?"
"I am taking it down," answered Spargo. "Every
word. In my head."
Mr. Criedir laughed and rubbed his hands.
84 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
" Oh ! " he said. ' ' Ah, well, in my young days journal-
ists used to pull out pencil and notebook at the first op-
portunity. But you modern young men "
"Just so," agreed Spargo. "This information,
"Well," said Mr. Criedir, "we'll go on then. Yes-
terday afternoon the man described as Marbury came
into my shop. He "
"What time — exact time?" asked Spargo.
"Two — ^to the very minute by St. Clement Danes
clock," answered Mr. Criedir. "I'd swear twenty af-
fidavits on that point. He was precisely as you've de-
scribed him — dress, everything — I tell you I knew his
photo as soon as I saw it. He was carrying a little
"What sort of box?" said Spargo.
"A queer, old-fashioned, much-worn leather box —
a very miniature trunk, in fact," replied Mr. Criedir.
"About a foot square; the sort of thing you never see
nowadays. It was very much worn ; it attracted me for
that very reason. He set it on the counter and looked
at me. 'You're a dealer in stamps — rare stamps?' he
said. 'I am,' I replied. 'I've something here I'd like
to show you,' he said, unlocking the box. 'It's "
"Stop a bit," said Spargo. "Where did he take the
key from with which he unlocked the box?"
"It was one of several which he carried on a split
ring, and he took the biinch out of his left-hand trousers
pocket," replied Mr. Criedir. "Oh, I keep my eyes
open, young gentleman! Well — he opened his box. It
seemed to me to be full of papers — at any rate there
THE DEALER IN RARE STAMPS 85
were a lot of legal-looking documents on the top, tied
up with red tape. To show you how I notice things I
saw that the papers were stained with age, and that the
red tape was faded to a mere washed-out pink. ' '
"Good — good!" murmured Spargo. "Excellent!
' ' He put his hand under the topmost papers and drew
out an envelope," continued Mr. Criedir. "From the
envelope he produced an exceedingly rare, exceedingly
valuable set of Colonial stamps — the very first ever is-
sued. 'I've just come from Australia,' he said. 'I
promised a young friend of mine out there to sell these
stamps for him in London, and as I was passing this
way I caught sight of your shop. Will you buy 'em,
and how much will you give for 'em?' "
"Prompt," muttered Spargo.
' ' He seemed to me the sort of man who doesn 't waste
words, ' ' agreed Mr. Criedir. ' ' Well, there was no doubt
about the stamps, nor about their great value. But I
had to explain to him that I was retiring from business
that very day, and did not wish to enter into even a
single deal, and that, therefore, I couldn't do anything.
'No matter,' he says, 'I daresay there are lots of men in
your line of trade — perhaps you can recommend me to
a good firm ? ' 'I could recommend you to a dozen extra-
good firms,' I answered. 'But I can do better for you.
I'll give you the nam^ and address of a private buyer
who, I haven't the least doubt, will be very glad to buy
that set from you and will give you a big price. ' ' Write
it down, ' he says, 'and thank you for your trouble. ' So
I gave him a bit of advice as to the price he ought to
86 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
get, and I wrote the name and address of the man I
referred to on the back of one of my cards. ' '
"Whose name and address?" asked Spargo.
"Mr. Nicholas Cardlestone, 2, Pilcox Buildings, Mid-
dle Temple Lane,\" replied Mr. Criedir. "Mr. Cardle-
stone is one of the most enthusiastic and accomplished
philatelists in Europe. And I knew he didn't possess
that set of stamps."
"I know Mr. Cardlestone," remarked Spargo. "It
was at the foot of his stairs that Marbury was found
murdered. ' '
' ' Just so, ' ' said Mr. Criedir. ' ' Which makes me think
that he was going to see Mr. Cardlestone when he was
set upon, murdered, and robbed. ' '
Spargo looked fixedly at the retired stamp-dealer.
"What, going to see an elderly gentleman in his
rooms in the Temple, to oflfer to sell him philatelic rari-
ties at — past midnight?" he said. "I think — ^not
much ! ' '
"All right," replied Mr. Criedir. "You think and
argue on modem lines — ^which are, of course, highly su-
perior. But — ^how do you account for my having given
Marbury Mr. Cardlestone 's address and for his having
been found dead — murdered — at the foot of Cardle-
stone 's stairs a few hours later ? ' '
"I don't account for it," said Spargo. "I'm trying
Mr. Criedir made no comment on this. He looked
his visitor up and down for a moment; gathered some
idea of his capabilities, and suddenly offered him a
cigarette. Spargo accepted it with a laconic word of
THE DEALER IN RARE STAMPS 87
thanks, and smoked half-way through it before he spoke
"Yes," he said. "I'm trying to account. And I
shall account. And I'm much obliged to you, Mr.
Criedir, for what you've told me. Now, then, may I
ask you a question or two ? ' '
"A thousand!" responded Mr. Criedir with great
"Very well. Did Marbury say he'd call on Cardie-
"He did. Said he'd call as soon as he could — ^that
"Have you told Cardlestone what you've just told
"I have. But not until an hour ago — on my way
back from your office, in fact. I met him in Fleet Street
and told him. ' '
' ' Had he received a call from Marbury ? ' '
"No! Never heard of or seen the man. At least,
never heard of him until he heard of the murder. He
told me he and his friend, Mr. Elphick, another philatel-
ist, went to see the body, wondering if they could recog-
nize it as any man they'd ever known, but they
"I know they did," said Spargo. "I saw 'em at the
mortuary. Um ! Well — one more question. When
Marbury left you, did he put those stamps in his box
again, as before ? ' '
"No," replied Mr. Criedir. "He put them in his
right-hand breast pocket, and he locked up his old box,
and went off swinging it in his left hand. ' '
88 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Spargo went away down Fleet Street, seeing nobody.
He muttered to himself, and he was still muttering when
he got into his room at the office. And what he mut-
tered was the same thing, repeated over and over again :
' ' Six hours — six hours — six hours ! Those six hours ! ' '
Next morning the Watchman came out with four
leaded columns of up-to-date news about the Marbury
Case, and right across the top of the four ran a heavy
double line of great capitals, black and staring: —
Who Saw John Marbury Between 3.15 p. m. and 9.15
p. M. ON THE Day Preceding His Murder ?
THE LEATHER BOX
Whether Spargo was sanguine enough to expect that
his staring headline would bring him information of the
sort he wanted was a secret which he kept to himself.
That a good many thousands of human beings must have
set eyes on John Marbury between the hours which
Spargo set forth in that headline was certain ; the prob-
lem was — ^What particular owner or owners of a pair or
of many pairs of those eyes would remember him ? Why
should they remember him? Walters and his wife had
reason to remember him ; Criedir had reason to remember
him ; so had Myerst ; so had William Webster. But be-
tween a quarter past three, when he left the London
and Universal Safe Deposit, and a quarter past nine,
when he sat down by Webster's side in the lobby of the
House of Commons, nobody seemed to have any recollec-
tion of him except Mr. Fiskie, the hatter, and he only
remembered him faintly, and because Marbury had
bought a fashionable cloth cap at his shop. At any
rate, by noon of that day, nobody had come forward
with any recollection of him. He must have gone West
from seeing Myerst, because he bought his cap at
Piskie's ; he must eventually have gone South-West, be-
cause he turned up at Westminster. But where else did
90 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
he go ? What did he do 1 To whom did he speak ? No
answer came to these questions.
"That shows," observed young Mr. Ronald Breton,
lazing an hour away in Spargo 's room at the Watchman
at that particular hour which is neither noon nor after-
noon, wherein even busy men do nothing, "that shows
how a chap can go about London as if he were merely an
ant that had strayed into another ant-heap than his
own. Nobody notices."
"You'd better go and read up a little elementary en-
tomology, Breton," said Spargo. "I don't know much
about it myself, but I've a pretty good idea that when
an ant walks into the highways and byways of a colony
to which he doesn't belong he doesn't survive his intru-
sion by many seconds."
, "Well, you know what I mean," said Breton. "Lon-
don's an ant-heap, isn't it? One human ant more or
less doesn't count. This man Marbury must have gone
about a pretty tidy lot during those six hours. He'd
ride on a 'bus — almost certain. He'd get into a taxi-
cab — I think that's much more certain, because it would
be a novelty to him. He'd want some tea — anyway,
he'd be sure to want a drink, and he'd turn in somewhere
to get one or the other. He'd buy things in shops —
these Colonials always do. He'd go somewhere to get
his dinner. He'd — but what's the use of enumeration in
"A mere piling up of platitudes," answered Spargo.
"What I mean is," continued Breton, "that piles of
people must have seen him, and yet it's now hours and
hours since your paper came out this morning, and no-
THE LEATHER BOX 91
body's come forward to tell anything. And when you
came to think of it, why should they? Who'd remem-
ber an ordinary man in a grey tweed suit?"
" 'An ordinary man in a grey tweed suit,' " repeated
Spargo. "Good line. You haven't any copyright in
it, remember. It would make a good cross-heading."
Breton laughed. "You're a queer chap, Spargo," he
said. "Seriously, do you think you're getting any
"I'm getting nearer something with everything that's
done," Spargo answered. "You can't start on a busi-
ness like this without evolving something out of it, you
"WeU," said Breton, "to me there's not so much
mystery in it. Mr. Aylmore's explained the reason why
my address was found on the body; Criedir, the stamp-
man, has explained "
Spargo suddenly looked up.
"What?" he said sharply.
"Why, the reason of Marbury's being found where
he was found, ' ' replied Breton. ' ' Of course, I see it all !
Marbury was mooning around Fleet Street; he slipped
into Middle Temple Lane, late as it was, just to see
vihere old Cardlestone hangs out, and he was set upon
and done for. The thing's plain to me. The only thing
now is to find who did it."
"Yes, that's it," agreed Spargo. "That's it." He
turned over the leaves of the diary which lay on his desk.
"By the by," he said, looking up with some interest,
"the adjourned inquest is at eleven o'clock tomorrow
morning. Are you going?"
02 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"I shall certainly go," answered, Breton. "What's
more, I'm going to take Miss Aylmore and her sister.
As the gruesome details were over at the first sitting,
and as there'll be nothing but this new evidence to-
morrow, and as they've never been in a coroner's court
"Mr. Aylmore '11 be the principal witness tomorrow,"
interrupted Spargo. "I suppose he'll be able to tell a
lot more than he told — ^me. ' '
Breton shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't see that there's much more to tell," he said.
"But," he added, with a sly laugh, "I suppose you want
some more good copy, eh?"
Spargo glanced at his watch, rose, and picked up his
hat. "I'll tell you what I want," he said. "I want to
know who John Marbury was. That would make good
copy. Who he was — twenty — twenty-five — forty years
"And you tliink Mr. Aylmore can tell ? ' ' ask^d Breton.
"Mr. Aylmore," answered Spargo as they walked to-
wards the door, "is the only person I have met so far
who has admitted that he knew John Marbury in the
— past. But he didn't tell me — much. Perhaps he'll
tell the coroner and his jury — ^more. Now, I'm o£.
Breton — I 've an appointment. ' '
And leaving Breton to find his own way out, Spargo
hurried away, jumped into a taxi-cab and speeded to the
London and Universal Safe Deposit. At the comer of
its building he found Rathbury awaiting him.
"Well?" said Spargo, as he sprang out: "How is
THE LEATHER BOX 93
"It's all right," answered Rathbury. "You can be
present : I got the necessary permission. As there are
no relations known, there'll only be one or two officials
and you, and the Safe Deposit people, and myself.
Come on — it 's about time. ' '
"It sounds," observed Spargo, "like an exhumation."
Rathbury laughed. "Well, we're certainly going to
dig up a dead man's secrets," he said. "At least, we
may be going to do so. In my opinion, Mr. Spargo,
we'll find some clue in this leather box."
Spargo made no answer. They entered the office, to
be shown into a room where were already assembled Mr.
Myerst, a gentleman who turned out to be the chairman
of the company, and the officials of whom Rathbury had
spoken. And in another moment Spargo heard the
chairman explaining that the company possessed dupli-
cate keys to all safes, and that the proper authorization
having been received from the proper authorities, those
present would now proceed to the safe recently tenanted
by the late Mr. John Marbury, and take from it the
property which he himself had deposited there, a small
leather box, which they would afterwards bring to
that room and cause to be opened in each other's pres-
It seemed to Spargo that there was an unending un-
locking of bolts and bars before he and his fellow-pro-
cessionists came to the safe so recently rented by the
late Mr. John Marbury, now undoubtedly deceased.
And at first sight of it, he saw that it was so small aoi
affair that it seemed ludicrous to imagine that it could
contain anything of any importance. In fact, it looked
94 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
to be no more than a plain wooden locker, one amongst
many in a small strong room : it reminded Spargo irre-
sistibly of the locker in which, in his school days, he had
kept his personal belongings and the jam tarts, sausage
rolls, and hardbake smuggled in from the tuck-shop.
Marbury's name had been newly painted upon it; the
paint was scarcely dry. But when the wooden door —
the front door, as it were, of this temple of mystery,
had been solemnly opened by the chairman, a formidable
door of steel was revealed, and expectation still leapt
in the bosoms of the beholders.
"The duplicate key, Mr. Myerst, if you please," com-
manded the chairman, "the duplicate key!"
Myerst, who was fully as solemn as his principal, pro-
duced a curious-looking key: the chairman lifted his
hand as if he were about to christen a battleship: the
steel door swung slowly back. And there, in a two-foot
square cavity, lay the leather box.
It struck Spargo as they filed back to the secretary's
room that the procession became more funereal-like than
ever. First walked the chairman, abreast with the high
oflScial, who had brought the necessary authorization
from the all-powerful quarter ; then came Myerst carry-
ing the box: followed two other gentlemen, both legal
lights, charged with watching official and police inter-
ests; Rathbury and Spargo brought up the rear. He
whispered something of his notions to the detective;
Rathbury nodded a comprehensive understanding.
"Let's hope we're going to see— something ! " he said.
In the secretary's room a man waited who touched his
forelock respectfully as the heads of the procession en-
THE LEATHER BOX 95
tered, Myerst set the box on the table: the man made
a musical jingle of keys : the other members of the pro-
cession gathered round.
"As we naturally possess no key to this box," an-
nounced the chairman in grave tones, "it becomes our
duty to employ professional assistance in opening it.
He waved a hand, and the man of the keys stepped
forward with alacrity. He examined the lock of the
box with a knowing eye ; it was easy to see that he was
anxious to faU upon it. While he considered matters,
Spargo looked at the box. It was pretty much what it
had been described to him as being ; a small, square box
of old cow-hide, very strongly made, much worn and
tarnished, fitted with a handle projecting from the lid,
and having the appearance of having been hidden away
somewhere for many a long day.
There was a click, a spring : Jobson stepped back.
"That's it, if you please, sir," he said.
The chairman motioned to the high official.
"If you would be good enough to open the box, sir,"
he said. ' ' Our duty is now concluded. ' '
As the high official laid his hand on the lid the other
men gathered round with craning necks and expectant
eyes. The lid was lifted: somebody sighed deeply.
And Spargo pushed his own head and eyes nearer.
The box was empty!
Empty, as anything that can be empty is empty!
thought Spargo : there was literally nothing in it. They
were all staring into the interior of a plain, time-worn
little receptacle, lined out with old-fashioned chintz
96 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
stuff, such as our Mid- Victorian fore-fathers were fa-
miliar with, and containing — nothing.
"God bless my soul!" exclaimed the chairman.
"This is — dear me! — why, there is nothing in the box!"
"That," remarked the high official, drily, "appears
to be obvious."
The chairman looked at the secretary.
"I understood the box was valuable, Mr. Myerst," he
■ said, with the half -injured air of a man who considers
himself to have been robbed of an exceptionally fine treat.
"I can only repeat what I have already said. Sir
Benjamin," he answered. "The — er late Mr. Marbury
spoke of the deposit as being of great value to him ; he
never permitted it out of his hand until he placed it in
the safe. He appeared to regard it as of the greatest
value. ' '
"But we understand from the evidence of Mr. Criedir,
given to the Watchman newspaper, that it was full of
papers and — and other articles," said the chairman.
"Criedir saw papers in it about an hour before it was
Myerst spread out his hands.
"I can only repeat what I have said. Sir Benjamin,"
he answered. "I know nothing more."
"But why should a man deposit an empty box?" be-
gan the chairman. "I "
The high official interposed.
" That the box is empty is certain," he observed.
"Did you ever handle it yourself, Mr. Myerst?"
THE LEATHER BOX 97
Myerst smiled in a superior fashion.
"I have already observed, sir, that from the time the
deceased entered this room until the moment he placed
the box in the safe which he rented, the box was never
out of his hands, ' ' he replied.
Then there was silence. At last the high official
turned to the chairman.
"Very well," he said. "We've made the enquiry.
Rathbury, take the box away with you and lock it up
at the Yard."
So Spargo went out with Rathbury and the box ; and
saw excellent, if mystifying, material for the article
which had already become the daily feature of his paper.
MR. AYLMORE IS QUESTIONED
It seemed to Spargo as he sat listening to the proceed-
ings at the adjourned inquest next day that the whole
story of what was now world-famous as the Middle
Temple Murder Case was being reiterated before him for
the thousandth time. There was not a detail of the
story with which he had not become familiar to fulness.
The first proceeding before the coroner had been of a
merely formal nature ; these were thorough and exhaus-
tive; the representative of the Crown and twelve good
men and true of the City of London were there to hear
and to find out and to arrive at a conclusion as to how
the man known as John Marbury came by his death.
And although he knew all about it, Spargo found him-
self tabulating the evidence in a professional manner,
and noting how each successive witness contributed, as
it were, a chapter to the story. The story itself ran
quite easily, naturally, consecutively — you could make it
in sections. And Spargo, sitting merely to listen, made
1. The Temple porter and Constable DriscoU proved
the finding of the body.
2. The police surgeon testified as to the cause of
death — the man had been struck down from be-
MR. AYLMORE IS QUESTIONED 99
hind by a blow, a terrible blow — from some heavy
instrument, and had died immediately.
3. The police and the mortuary officials proved that
when the body was examined nothing was found
in the clothing but the now famous scrap of grey
4. Rathbury proved that by means of the dead man's
new fashionable cloth cap, bought at Fiskie's
well-known shop in the West-End, he traced
Marbury to the Anglo-Orient Hotel in the Water-
5. Mr. and Mrs. Walters gave evidence of the arrival
of Marbury at the Anglo-Orient Hotel, and of his
doings while he was in and about there.
6. The purser of the ss. Wambarino proved that Mar-
bury sailed from Melbourne to Southampton on
that ship, excited no remark, behaved himself Uke
any other well-regulated passenger, and left the
Wamiarino at Southampton early in the morn-
ing of what was to be the last day of his life in
just the ordinary manner.
7. Mr. Criedir gave evidence of his rencontre with
Marbury in the matter of the stamps.
8. Mr. Myerst told of Marbury 's visit to the Safe De-
posit, and further proved that the box which he
placed there proved, on official examination, to
9. WilHam Webster re-told the story of his encounter
with Marbury in one of the vestibules of the
House of Commons, and of his witnessing the
meeting between him and the gentleman whom
100 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
he (Webster) now knew to be Mr. Aylmore, a
Member of Parliament.
All this led up to the appearance of Mr. Aylmore, M.P.,
in the witness-box. And Spargo knew and felt that it
was that appearance for which the crowded court was
waiting. Thanks to his own vivid and realistic specials
in the Watchman, everybody there had already become
well and thoroughly acquainted with the mass of evi-
dence represented by the nine witnesses who had been
in the box before Mr. Aylmore entered it. They were
familiar, too, with the facts which Mr. Aylmore had per-
mitted Spargo to print after the interview at the club,
which Ronald Breton arranged. Why, then, the ex-
traordinary interest which the Member of Parliament's
appearance aroused? For everybody was extraordinar-
ily interested; from the Coroner downwards to the last
man who had managed to squeeze himself into the last
available inch of the public gallery, all who were there
wanted to hear and see the man who met Marbury un-
der such dramatic circumstances, and who went to his
hotel with him, hobnobbed with him, gave him advice,
walked out of the hotel with him for a stroll from which
Marbury never returned. Spargo knew well why the in-
terest was so keen — everybody knew that Aylmore was
the only man who could tell the court anything really
pertinent about Marbury, who he was, what he was
after; what his life had been.
He looked round the court as the Member of Parlia-
ment entered the witness-box — a tall, handsome, per-
fectly-groomed man, whose beard was only slightly tinged
with grey, whose figure was as erect as a well-drilled
MR. AYLMORE IS QUESTIONED 101
soldier's, who carried about him aa air of conscious
power. Aylmore's two daughters sat at a little distance
away, opposite Spargo, with Ronald Breton in attendance
upon them; Spargo had encountered their glance as
they entered the court, and they had given him a friendly
nod and smile. He had watched them from time to
time; it was plain to him that they regarded the whole
affair as a novel sort of entertainment ; they might have
been idlers in some Eastern bazaar, listening to the un-
folding of many tales from the professional tale-tellers.
Now, as their father entered the box, Spargo looked at
them again ; he saw nothing more than a little heighten-
ing of colour in their cheeks, a little brightening of
their eyes. ,
"All that they feel," he thought, "is a bit of extra
excitement at the idea that their father is mixed up in
this delightful mystery. Um! Well — now how much
is he mixed up?"
And he turned to the witness-box and from that mo-
ment never took his eyes off the man who now stood in
it. For Spargo had ideas about the witness which he
was anxious to develop.
The folk who expected something immediately sensa-
tional in Mr. Aylmore's evidence were disappointed.
Aylmore, having been sworn, and. asked a question or
two by the Coroner, requested permission to tell> in his
own way, what he knew of the dead man and of this
sad affair ; and having received that permission, he went
on in a calm, unimpassioned manner to repeat precisely
what he had told Spargo. It sounded a very plain,
ordinary story. He had known Marbury many years
lOa THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
ago. He had lost sight of him for — oh, quite twenty
years. He had met him accidentally in one of the vesti-
bules of the House of Commons on the evening preced-
ing the murder. Marbury had asked his advice. Hav-
ing no particular duty, and willing to do an old ac-
quaintance- a good turn, he had gone back to the Anglo-
Orient Hotel with Marbury, had remained awhile with
him in his room, examining his Australian diamonds,
and had afterwards gone out with him. He had given
him the advice he wanted; they had strolled across
Waterloo Bridge; shortly afterwards they had parted.
That was all he knew.
The court, the public, Spargo, everybody there, knew
all this already. It had been in print, under a big
headline, in the Watchman. Aylmore had now told it
again; having told it, he seemed to consider that his
next step was to leave the box and the court, and after
a perfunctory question or two from the Coroner and the
foreman of the jury he made a motion as if to step down.
But Spargo, who had been aware since the beginning of
the enquiry of the presence of a certain eminent counsel
who represented the Treasury, cocked his eye in that
gentleman 's direction, and was not surprised to see him
rise in his well-known, apparently indifferent fashion,
fix his monocle in his right eye, and glance at the tall
figure in the witness-box.
"The fun is going to begin," muttered Spargo.
The Treasury representative looked from Aylmore to
the Coroner and made a jerky bow ; from the Coroner
to Aylmore and straightened himself. He. looked like
a man who is going to ask indifferent questions about the
MR. AYLMORE IS QUESTIONED 103
state of the weather, or how Smith's wife was last time
you heard of her, or if stocks are likely to rise or fall.
But Spargo had heard this man before, and he knew
many signs of his in voice and manner and glance.
"I want to ask you a few questions, Mr. Aylmore,
about your acquaintanceship with the dead man. It
was an acquaintanceship of some time ago?" began the
suave, seemingly careless voice.
"A considerable time ago," answered Aylmore.
"How long — roughly speaking?"
"I should say from twenty to twenty-two or three
years. ' '
"Never saw him during that time until you met ac-
cidentally in the way you have described to us ? "
"Ever heard from him?"
' ' Ever heard of him ? ' '
"But when you met, you knew each other at once?"
"Well — almost at once."
"Almost at once. Then, I take it, you were very well
known to each other twenty or twenty-two years ago?"
"We were — yes, well known to each other."
"I said we were acquaintances."
"Acquaintances. What was his name when you knew
him at that time?"
' ' His name ? It was— Marbury. ' '
"Marbury — the same name. Where did you know
104 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"I — oh, here in London."
"What was he?"
"Do you mean — what was his occupation?"
"What was his occupation?"
"I believe he was concerned in financial matters."
"Concerned in financial matters. Had you dealings
"Well, yes — on occasions."
"What was his business address in London?"
"I can't remember that."
"What was his private address?"
"That I never knew."
"Where did you transact your business with him?"
"Well, we met, now and then."
"Where? What place, office, resort?"
"I can't remember particular places. Sometimes—
in the City."
"In the City. Where in the City? Mansion House,
or Lombard Street, or St. Paul's Churchyard, or the
Old Bailey, or where?"
"I have recollections of meeting him outside the Stock
Exchange. ' '
" Oh ! Was he a member of that institution ? ' '
"Not that I know of."
"What were the dealings that you had with him?"
"Financial dealings — small ones."
"How long did your acquaintanceship with him last
— what period did it extend over?"
"I should say about six months to nine months."
MR. AYLMORE IS QUESTIONED 105
"Certainly no more."
"It was quite a slight acqu£iintancesliip, then?"
"And yet, after losing sight of this merely slight ac-
quaintance for over twenty years, you, on meeting him,
take great interest in him ? ' '
"Well, I was willing to do him a good turn, I was in-
terested in what he told me the other evening."
"I see. Now you will not object to my asking you a
personal question or two. You are a public man, and
the facts about the lives of public men are more or less
public property. You are represented in this work of
popular reference as coming to this country in 1902,
from Argentina, where you made a considerable fortune.
You have told us, however, that you were in London,
acquainted with Marbury, about the years, say 1890 to
1892. Did you then leave England soon after knowing
"I did. I left England in 1891 or 1892—1 am not
"We are wanting to be very sure about this matter,
Mr. Aylmore. We want to solve the important ques-
tion — ^who is, who was John Marbury, and how did he
come by his death? You seem to be the only available
person who knows anything about him. What was your
business before you left England?"
"I was interested in financial affairs."
"Like Marbury. Where did you carry on your busi-
"In London, of course."
106 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"At what address?"
For some moments Aylmore had been growing more
and more restive. His brow had flushed ; his moustache
had begun to twitch. And now he squared his shoulders
and faced his questioner defiantly.
"I resent these questions about my private affairs!"
he snapped out.
"Possibly. But I must put them. I repeat my last
"And I refuse to answer it."
' ' Then I ask you another. Where did you live in Lon-
don at the time you are telling us of, when you knew
' ' I refuse to answer that question also ! ' '
The Treasury Counsel sat down and looked at the
THE NEW WITNESS
The voice of the Coroner, bland, suave, deprecating,
broke the silence. He was addressing the witness.
"I am sure, Mr. Aylmore," he said, "there is no wish
to trouble you with unnecessary questions. But we are
here to get at the truth of this matter of John Marbury's
death, and as you are the only witness we have had who
knew him personally "
Aylmore turned impatiently to the Coroner.
"I have every wish to respect your authority, sir!"
he exclaimed. "And I have told you all that I know of
Marbury and of what happened when I met him the
other evening. But I resent being questioned on my pri-
vate affairs of twenty years ago — I very much resent
it ! Any question that is really pertinent I will answer,
but I will not answer questions that seem to me wholly
foreign to the scope of this enquiry."
The Treasury Counsel rose again. His manner had
become of the quietest, and Spargo again became keenly
"Perhaps I can put a question or two to Mr. Aylmore
which will not yield him offence," he remarked drily.
He turned once more to the witness, regarding him as
if with interest. "Can you tell us of any person now
108 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
living who knew Marbury in London at the time under
discussion — twenty to twenty-two or three years ago?"
Aylmore shook his head angrily.
"No, I can't," he replied.
"And yet you and he must have had several business
acquaintances at that time who knew you both ? ' '
"Possibly — at that time. But when I returned to
England my business and my life lay in different direc-
tions to those of that time. I don't know of anybody
who knew Marbury then — anybody."
The Counsel turned to a clerk who sat behind him,
whispered to him ; Spargo saw the clerk make a sidelong
motion of his head towards the door of the court. The
Counsel looked again at the witness.
' ' One more question. You told the court a little time
since that you parted with Marbury on the evening
preceding his death at the end of Waterloo Bridge —
at, I think you said, a quarter to twelve. ' '
"About that time."
"And at that place?"
"That is all I want to ask you, Mr. Aylmore — ^just
now," said the Counsel. He turned to the Coroner.
"I am going to ask you, sir, at this point to call a wit-
ness who has volunteered certain evidence to the police
authorities this morning. That evidence is of a very
important nature, and I think that this is the stage at
which it ought to be given to you and the jury. If you
would be pleased to direct that David Lyell be called
THE NEW WITNESS 109
Spargo turned instinctively to the door, having seen
the clerk who had sat behind the Treasury Counsel make
his way there. There came into view, ushered by the
clerk, a smart-looking, alert, self-confident young man,
evidently a Scotsman, who, on the name of David Lyell
being called, stepped jauntily and readily into the place
which the member of Parliament just vacated. He took
the oath — Scotch fashion — with the same readiness and
turned easily to the Treasury Counsel. And Spargo,
glancing quickly round, saw that the court was breath-
less with anticipation, and that its anticipation was that
the new witness was going to tell something which re-
lated to the evidence just given by Aylmore.
"Your name is David Lyell?"
"That is my name, sir."
"And you reside at 23, Cumbrae Side, Kilmarnock,
"What are you, Mr. Lyell?"
"Traveller, sir, for the firm of Messrs. Stevenson,
Robertson & Soutar, distillers, of Kilmarnock."
"Your duties take you, I think, over to Paris occa-
"They do — once every six weeks I go to Paris."
"On the evening of June 21st last were you in Lon-
don on your way to Paris?"
"I believe you stayed at De Keyser's Hotel, at the
Blackfriars end of the Embankment?"
"I did — ^it's handy for the continental trains."
"About half -past eleven, or a little later, that evening,
110 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
did you go along the Embankment, on the Temple Gar-
dens side, for a walk?"
"I did, sir. I'm a bad sleeper, and it's a habit of mine
to take a walk of half an hour or so last thing before I
go to bed. ' '
"How far did you walk?"
"As far as Waterloo Bridge."
"Always on the Temple side?"
"Just so, sir — straight along on that side."
"Very good. When you got close to Waterloo Bridge,
did you meet anybody you knew ? ' '
"Mr. Aylmore, the Member of Parliament."
Spargo could not avoid a glance at the two sisters.
The elder's head was averted; the younger was staring
at the witness steadily. And Breton was nervously tap-
ping his fingers on the crown of his shining silk hat.
"Mr. Aylmore, the Member of Parliament," repeated
the Counsel's suave, clear tones. "Oh! And how did
you come to recognize Mr. Aylmore, Member of Parlia-
"Well, sir, in this way. At home, I'm the secretary
of our Liberal Ward Club, and last year we had a dem-
onstration, and it fell to me to arrange with the prin-
cipal speakers. I got Mr. Aylmore to come and speak,
and naturally I met him several times, in London and in
' ' So that you knew him quite well ? ' '
"Oh yes, sir."
' ' Do you see him now, Mr. Lyell ? ' '
THE NEW WITNESS 111
Lyell smiled and half turned in the box.
' ' Why, of course ! " he answered. ' ' There is Mr. Ayl-
"There is Mr. Aylmore. Very good. Now we go on.
You met Mr. Aylmore close to Waterloo Bridge ? How
"Well, sir, to be exact, Mr. Aylmore came down the
steps from the bridge on to the Embankment."
"Who was with him?"
"A man, sir."
' ' Did you know the man ? ' '
"No. But seeing who he was with, I took a good
look at him. I haven't forgotten his face."
"You haven't forgotten his face. Mr. Lyell — has any-
thing recalled that face to you within this last day or
"Yes, sir, indeed!"
"The picture of the man they say was murdered —
"You're sure of that?"
"I'm as certain, sir, as that my name's what it is."
"It is your belief that Mr. Aylmore, when you met
him, was accompanied by the man who, according to the
photographs, was John Marbury?"
"It is, sir!"
"Very well. Now, having seen Mr. Aylmore and his
companion, what did you do ? "
"Oh, I just turned and walked after them."
112 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"You walked after them? They were going east-
"They were walking by the way I'd come."
"You followed them eastward?"
"I did — I was going back to the hotel, you see."
"What were they doing?"
"Talking uncommonly earnestly, sir."
"How far did you follow them?"
"I followed them until they came to the Embank-
ment lodge of Middle Temple Lane, sir. ' '
"And then?" |
"Why, sir, they turned in there, and I went straight
on to De Keyser's, and to my bed."
There was a deeper silence in court at that moment
than at any other period of the long day, and it grew
still deeper when the quiet, keen voice put the next ques-
"You swear on your oath that you saw Mr. Aylmore
take his companion into th:. Temple by the Embankment
entrance of Middle Temp'e Lane on the occasion in
question ? ' '
"I do! I could swear no other, sir."
"Can you tell us, as near as possible, what time that
"Yes. It was, to a minute or so, about five minutes
The Treasury Counsel nodded to the Coroner, and
the Coroner, after a whispered conference with the
foreman of the jury, looked at the witness.
"You have only just given this information to the
police, I understand?" he said.
THE NEW WITNESS 113
"Yes, sir. I have been in Paris, and in Amiens, and
I only returned by this morning's boat. As soon as I
had read all the news in the papers — ^the English papers
— and seen the dead man 's photographs I determined to
tell the police what I knew, and I went to New Scot-
land Yard as soon as I got to London this morning. ' '
Nobody else wanted to ask Mr. David Lyell any ques-
tions, and he stepped down. And Mr, Aylmore sud-
denly came forward again, seeking the Coroner's atten-
"May 1 be allowed to make an explanation, sir?" he
began. "I "
But the Treasury Counsel was on his feet, this time
stern and implacable. "I would point out, sir, that
you have had Mr. Aylmore in the box, and that he was
not then at all ready to give explanations, or even to
answer questions," he said. "And before you allow
him to make any explanation now, I ask you to hear
another witness whom I wish to interpose at this stage.
That witness is "
Mr. Aylmore turned almost angrily to the Coroner.
''After the evidence of the last witness, I think I have
a right to be heard at once!" he said with emphasis.
"As matters stand at present, it looks as if I had trifled,
sir, with you and the jury, whereas if I am allowed to
make an explanation "
"I must respectfully ask that before Mr. Aylmore is
allowed to make any explanation, the witness I have
referred to is heard," said the Treasury Counsel sternly.
"There are weighty reasons."
"I am afraid you must wait a little, Mr. Aylmore, if
114 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
you wish to give an explanation, ' ' said the Coroner. He
turned to the Counsel. "Who is this other witness?"
Aylmore stepped back. And Spargo noticed that the
younger of his two daughters was staring, at him with
an anxious expression. There was no distrust of her
father in her face; she was anxious. She, too, slowly
turned to the next witness. This man was the porter
of the Embankment lodge of Middle Temple Lane.
The Treasury Counsel put a straight question to him at
"You see that gentleman," he said, pointing to Ayl-
more. ' ' Do you know him as an inmate of the Temple ? ' '
The man stared at Aylmore, evidently confused.
"Why, certainly, sir!" he answered. "Quite well,
"Very good. And now — what name do you know
The man grew evidently more bewildered.
"Name, sir. Why, Mr, Anderson, sir!" he replied.
A distinct, uncontrollable murmur of surprise ran
round the packed court as this man in the witness-box
gave this answer. It signified many things — that there
were people present who had expected some such dra-
matic development; that there were others present who
had not; that the answer itself was only a prelude to
further developments. And Spargo, looking narrowly
about him, saw that the answer had aroused different
feelings in Aylmore 's two daughters. The elder one had
dropped her face until it was quite hidden ; the younger
was sitting bolt upright, staring at her father in utter
and genuine bewilderment. And for the first time, Ayl-
more made no 4'esponse to her.
But the course of things was going steadily forward.
There was no stopping the Treasury Counsel now; he
was going to get at some truth in his own merciless fash-
ion. He had exchanged one glance with the Coroner,
had whispered a word to the solicitor who sat close by
him, and now he turned again to the witness.
"So you know that gentleman — ^make sure now — as
Mr. Anderson, an inmate of the Temple?"
"You don't know him by any other name?"
116 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"No, sir, I don't."
"How long have you known him by that name?"
"I should say two or three years, sir."
"See him go in and out regularly?"
"No, sir — ^not regularly."
"How often, then?"
"Now and then, sir — ^perhaps once a week."
"Tell us what you know of Mr. Anderson's goings-
"Well, sir, I might see him two nights running; then
I mightn't see him again for perhaps a week or two.
Irregular, as you might say, sir."
"You say 'nights.' Do I understand that you never
see Mr. Anderson except at night?"
"Yes, sir. I've never seen him except at night. Al-
ways about the same time, sir."
"Just about midnight, sir."
"Very well. Do you remember the midnight of June
"I do, sir."
"Did you see Mr. Anderson enter then?"
"Yes, sir, just after twelve."
"Was he alone?"
"No, sir; there was another gentleman with him."
"Remember anything about that other gentleman?"
"Nothing, sir, except that I noticed as they walked
through, that the other gentleman had grey clothes on."
"Had grey clothes on. You didn't see his face?"
"Not to remember it, sir. I don't remember anything
but what I 've told you, sir. ' '
UNDER SUSPICION 117
"That is that the other gentleman wore a grey suit.
Where did Mr. Anderson and this gentleman in the grey
suit go when they'd passed through?"
' ' Sti:aight up the Lane, sir. ' '
"Do you know where Mr. Anderson's rooms in the
"Not exactly, sir, but I understood in Fountain
"Now, on that night in question, did Mr. Anderson
leave again by your lodge ? ' '
"You heard of the discovery of the body of a dead
man in Middle Temple Lane next morning?"
"I did, sir."
' ' Did you connect that man with the gentleman in the
"No, sir, I didn't. It never occurred to me. A lot
of the gentlemen who live in the Temple bring friends
in late of nights ; I never gave the matter any particular
"Never mentioned it to anybody until now, when
you were sent for to come here ? ' '
' ' No, sir, never, to anybody. ' '
' ' And you have never known the gentleman standing
there as anybody but Mr. Anderson?"
"No, sir, never heard any other name but Ander-
The Coroner glanced at the Counsel.
"I think this may be a convenient opportunity for
Mr. Aylmore to give the explanation he offered a few
minutes ago," he said. "Do you suggest anything?"
118 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"I suggest, sir," that if Mr. Aylmore desires to give
any explanation, he should return to the witness-box
and submit himself to examination again on his oath,"
replied the Counsel. "The matter is in your hands."
The Coroner turned to Aylmore.
"Do you object to that?" he asked.
Aylmore stepped boldly forward and into the box.
"I object to nothing," he said in clear tones, "except
to being asked to reply to questions about matters of the
past which have not and cannot have anything to do with
this ease. Ask me what questions you like, arising out
of the evidence of the last two witnesses, and I will
answer them so far as I see myself justified in doing so.
Ask me questions about matters of twenty years ago,
and I shall answer them or not as I see fit. And I may
as well say that I will take aU the consequences of my
silence or my speech. ' '
The Treasury Counsel rose again.
"Very well, Mr. Aylmore," he said. "I will put
certain questions to you. You heard the evidence of
"Was that quite true as regards yourself?"
"Quite true — absolutely true."
"And you heard that of the last witness. "Was that
"Then you admit that the evidence you gave this
morning, before these witnesses came on the scene, was
UNDER SUSPICION 119
"No, I do not! Most emphatically I do not. It was
"True? You told me, on oath, that you parted from
John Marbury on Waterloo Bridge!"
"Pardon me, I said nothing of the sort. I said that
from the Anglo-Orient Hotel we strolled across Water-
loo Bridge, and that shortly afterwards we parted-— I
did not say where we parted. I see there is a shorthand
writer here who is taking everything down — ask him if
that is not exactly what I said ? ' '
A reference to the stenographer proved Aylmore to
be right, and the Treasury Counsel showed plain an-
"Well, at any rate, you so phrased your answer that
nine persons out of ten w( ild have understood that you
parted from Marbury in tne open streets after crossing
Waterloo Bridge," he said. "Now — ?"
"I am not responsible for the understanding of nine
people out of ten any more than I am for your under-
standing," he said, with a sneer. "I said what I now
repeat — Marbury and I walked across Waterloo Bridge,
and shortly afterwards we parted. I told you the
"Indeed! Perhaps you will continue to tell us the
truth. Since you have admitted that the evidence of
the last two witnesses is absolutely correct, perhaps you
will tell us exactly where you and Marbury did part?"
"I will — willingly. We parted at the door of my
chambers in Fountain Court."
120 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"Then — to reiterate — it was you who took Marbury
into the Temple that night?"
"It was certainly I who took Marbury into the Tem-
ple that night. ' '
There was another murmur amongst the crowded
benches. Here at any rate was fact — solid, substantial
fact. And Spargo began to see a possible course of
events which he had not anticipated.
"That is a candid admission, Mr. Aylmore. I sup-
pose you see a certain danger to yourself in making it."
"I need not say whether I do or I do not. I have
made it. ' '
"Very good. Why did you not make it before?"
"For my own reasons. I told you as much as I con-
sidered necessary for the pirpose of this enquiry. I
have virtually altered nothing now. I asked to be al-
lowed to make a statement, to give an explanation, as
soon as Mr. Lyell had left this box: I was not allowed
to do so. I am willing to make it now. ' '
"Make it then."
"It is simply this," said Aylmore, turning to the
Coroner. "I have found it convenient, during the past
three years, to rent a simple set of chambers in the Tem-
ple, where I could occasionally — very occasionally, as
a rule — go late at night. I also found it convenient,
for my own reasons — with which, I think, no one has
anything to do — ^to rent those chambers under the name
of Mr. Anderson. It was to my chambers that Mar-
bury accompanied me for a few moments on the midnight
with, which we are dealing. He was not in them more
than five minutes at the very outside : I parted from him
UNDER SUSPICION 121
at my outer door, and I understood that he would leave
the Temple by the way we had entered and would drive
or walk straight back to his hotel. That is the whole
truth. I wish to add that I ought perhaps to have told
all this at first. I had reasons for not doing so. I told
what I considered necessary, that I parted from Mar-
bury, leaving him well and alive, soon after midnight. ' '
"What reasons were or are they which prevented you
from telling all this at first?" asked the Treasury
"Reasons which are private to me."
"Will you tell them to the court?"
"Then will you tell us why Marbury went with you
to the chambers in Fountain Court which you tenant
under the name of Anderson?"
' ' Yes. To fetch a document which I had in my keep-
ing, and had kept for him for twenty years or more?"
"A document of importance?"
' ' Of very great importance. ' '
"He would have it on him when he was — as we be-
lieve he was — murdered and robbed?"
' ' He had it on him when he left me. ' '
"Will you tell us what it was?"
"In fact, you won't tell us any more than you choose
"I have told you all I can tell of the events of that
"Then I am going to ask you a very pertinent ques-
tion. Is it not a fact that you know a great deal more
122 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
about John Marbury than you have told this court?"
"That I shall not answer."
"Is it not a fact that you could, if you would, tell this
court more about John Marbury and your acquaintance-
ship with him twenty years ago?"
"I also decline to answer that."
The Treasury Counsel made a little movement of his
shoulders and turned to the Coroner.
"I should suggest, sir, that you adjourn this enquiry,"
he said quietly.
"For a week," assented the Coroner, turning to the
The crowd surged out of the court, chattering, mur-
muring, exclaiming — spectators, witnesses, jurymen, re-
porters, legal folk, police folk, all miKed up together.
And Spargo, elbowing his own way out, and busily reck-
oning up the value of the new complexions put on every-
thing by the day's work, suddenly felt a hand laid on
his arm. Turning he found himself gazing at Jessie
THE SILYEE TICKET
With a sudden instinct of protection, Spargo quickly
drew the girl aside from the struggling crowd, and
within a moment had led her into a quiet by-street. He
looked down at her as she stood recovering her breath.
"Yes?" he said quietly.
Jessie Aylmore looked up at him, smiling faintly.
"I want to speak to you," she said. "I must speak
to you. ' '
"Yes," said Spargo. "But — the others? Your sis-
"I left them on purpose to speak to you," she an-
swered. "They knew I did. I am well accustomed to
looking after myself."
Spargo moved down the by-street, motioning his com-
panion to move with him.
"Tea," he said, "is what you want. I know a queer,
old-fashioned place close by here where you can get the
best China tea in London. Come and have some."
Jessie Aylmore smiled and followed her guide obedi-
ently. And Spargo said nothing, marching stolidly
'along with his thumbs in his waistcoat pockets, his fin-
gers playing soundless tunes outside, until he had in-
124 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
stalled himself and his companion in a quiet nook in the
old tea-house he had told her of, and had given an order
for tea and hot tea-cakes to a waitress who evidently
knew him. Then he turned to her.
"You want," he said, "to talk to me about your
"Yes," she answered. "I do."
"Why?" asked Spargo.
The girl gave him a searching look.
"Ronald Breton says you're the man who's written all
those special articles in the Watchman about the Mar-
bury case, ' ' she answered. ' ' Are you ? ' '
"I am," said Spargo.
"Then you're a man of great influence," she went
on. "You can stir the public mind. Mr. Spargo —
what are you going to write about my father and to-
Spargo signed to her to pour out the tea which had
just arrived. He seized, without ceremony, upon a piece
of the hot buttered tea-cake, and bit a great lump out
"Frankly," he mumbled, speaking with his mouth
full, "frankly, I don't know. I don't know — yet. But
I'll tell you this — it's best to be candid — I shouldn't
allow myself to be prejudiced or biassed in making up
my conclusions by anything that you may say to me.
Jessie Aylmore took a sudden liking to Spargo be-
cause of the unconventionality and brusqueness of his
"I'm not wanting to prejudice or bias you," she said.
THE SILVER TICKET 125
"All I want is that you should be very sure before you
say — anything."
"I'll be sure," said Spargo. "Don't bother. Is the
tea all right?"
"Beautiful!" she answered, with a smile that made
Spargo look at her again. "Delightful! Mr. Spargo,
tell me ! — what did you think about — about what has just
Spargo, regardless of the fact that his fingers were
liberally ornamented with butter, lifted a hand and
rubbed his always untidy hair. Then he ate more tea-
cake and gulped more tea.
"Look here ! " he said suddenly. " I 'm no great hand
at talking. I can write pretty decently when I've a
good story to tell, but I don't talk an awful lot, because
I never can express what I mean unless I've got a pen
in my hand. Frankly, I find it hard to tell you what
I think. When I write my article this evening, I'll get
all these things marshalled in proper form, and I shall
write clearly about 'em. But I'll tell you one thing I
do think — I wish your father had made a clean breast
of things to me at first, when he gave me that interview,
or had told everything when he first went into that box. ' '
"Why?" she asked.
"Because he's now set up an atmosphere of doubt
and suspicion around himself. People 'U think — Heaven
knows what they'll think! They already know that he
knows more about Marbury than he'll tell, that "
"But does he?" she interrupted quickly. "Do you
think he does?"
"Yes!" replied Spargo, with emphasis. "I do. A
126 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
lot more! If he had only been explicit at first— how-
ever, he wasn't. Now it's done. As things stand-
look here, does it strike you that your father is in a very
' ' Serious ? ' ' she exclaimed.
"Dangerous! Here's the fact — he's admitted that he
took Marbury to his rooms in the Temple that midnight.
Well, next morning Marbury 's found robbed and mur-
dered in an entry, not fifty yards off!"
"Does anybody suppose that my father would murder
him for the sake of robbing him of whatever he had on
him?" she laughed scornfully. "My father is a very
wealthy man, Mr. Spargo."
' ' May be, ' ' answered Spargo. ' ' But millionaires have
been known to murder men who held secrets."
"Secrets!" she exclaimed.
"Have some more tea," said Spargo, nodding at the
teapot. "Look here — this way it is. The theory that
people — some people — will build up (I won't say that
it hasn't suggested itself to me) is this: — There's some
mystery about the relationship, acquaintanceship, con-
nection, call it what you like, of your father and Mar-,
bury twenty odd years ago. Must be. There's some
mystery about your father's life, twenty odd years ago.
Must be — or else he'd have answered those questions,
Very well. 'Ha, ha!' says the general public. 'Now
we have it!' 'Marbury,' says the general public, 'was
a man who had a hold on Aylmore. He turned up.
Aylmore trapped him into the Temple, killed him to pre-
serve his own secret, and robbed Mm of all he had on
him as a blind.' Eh?"
THE SILVER TICKET 127
"You think— people will say that?" she exclaimed.
"Cock-sure! They're saying it. Heard half a dozen
of 'em say it, in more or less elegant fashion as I came
out of that court. Of course, they'll say it. Why,
what else could they say?"
For a moment Jessie Aylmore sat looking silently into
her tea-cup. Then she turned her eyes on Spargo, who
immediately manifested a new interest in what remained
of the tea-cakes.
"Is that what you're going to say in your article to-
night?" she asked, quietly.
"No!" replied Spargo, promptly. "It isn't. I'm
going to sit on the fence tonight. Besides, the case is
suh judice. All I'm going to do is to tell, in my way,
what took place at the inquest. "
The girl impulsively put her hand across the table
and laid it on Spargo 's big fist.
"Is it what you think?" she asked in a low voice.
"Honour bright, no!" exclaimed Spargo. "It isn't
— it isn't! I don't think it. I think there's a most
extraordinary mystery at the bottom of Marbury's death,
and I think your father knows an enormous lot about
Marbury that he won't tell, but I'm certain sure that
he neither killed Marbury nor knows anything whatever
about his death. And as I'm out to clear this mystery
up, and mean to do it, nothing '11 make me more glad
than to clear your father. I say, do have some more
tea-cake? We'll have fresh ones — and fresh tea."
"No, thank you," she said smiling. "And thank you
for what you've just said. I'm going now, Mr. Spargo.
You've done me good."
128 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"Oh, rot!" exclaimed Spargo. "Nothing— nothing!
I've just told you what I'm thinking. You must
go? . . ."
He saw her into a taxi-cab presently, and when she
had gone stood vacantly staring after the cab until a
hand clapped him smartly on the shoulder. Turning,
he found Eathbury grinning at him.
' ' All right, Mr. Spargo, I saw you ! " he said. ' ' "Well,
it's a pleasant change to squire young ladies after being
all day in that court. Look here, are you going to start
your writing just now ? ' '
"I'm not going to start my writing as you call it, until
after I've dined at seven o'clock and given myself time
to digest my modest dinner, ' ' answered Spargo. "What
"Come back with me and have another look at that
blessed leather box," said Rathbury. "I've got it in
my room, and I'd like to examine it for myself. Come
"The thing's empty," said Spargo.
"There might be a false bottom in it," remarked
Rathbury. "One never knows. Here, jump into this I"
He pushed Spargo into a passing taxi-cab, and fol-
lowing, bade the driver go straight to the Yard. Ar-
rived there, he locked Spargo and himself into the drab-
visaged room in which the journalist had seen him be-
"What d'ye think of today's doings, Spargo?" he
asked, as he proceeded to unlock a cupboard.
"I think," said Spargo, "that some of you fellows
must have had your ears set to tingling. ' '
THE SILVER TICKET 129
"That's so," assented Rathbury. "Of course, the
next thing '11 be to find out all about the Mr. Aylmore
of twenty years since. When a man won't tell you
where he lived twenty years ago, what he was exactly
doing, what his precise relationship with another man
was — why, then, you've just got to find out^ eh? Oh,
some of our fellows are at work on the life history of
Stephen Aylmore, Esq., M.P., already — ^you bet! Well,
now, Spargo, here's the famous box."
The detective brought the old leather case out of the
cupboard in which he had been searching, and placed it
on his desk. Spargo threw back the lid and looked in-
side, measuring the inner capacity against the exterior
"No false bottom in that, Rathbury," he said.
"There's just the outer leather case, and the inner lin-
ing, of this old bed-hanging stuff, and that 's all. There 's
no room for any false bottom or anything of that sort,
Eathbury also sized up the box's capacity.
"Looks like it," he said disappointedly. "Well, what
about the lid, then? I remember there was an old box
like this in my grandmother's farmhouse, where I was
reared — ^there was a pocket in the lid. Let's see if
there 's anything of the sort here ? "
He threw the lid back and began to poke about the
lining of it with the tips of his fingers, and presently he
turned to his companion with a sharp exclamation.
' ' By George, Spargo ! " he said. ' ' I don 't know about
any pocket, but there's something under this lining.
Peels like— here, you feel. There— and there."
130 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Spargo put a finger on the places indicated.
"Yes, that's so," he agreed. "Feels like two cards—
a large and a small one. And the small one's harder
than the other. Better cut that lining out, Rathbury."
"That," remarked Rathbury, producing a pen-knife,
"is just what I'm going to do. We'll cut along this
He ripped the lining carefully open along the upper
part of the lining of the lid, and looking into the pocket
thus made, drew out two objects which he dropped on
his blotting pad.
"A child's photograph," he said, glancing at one of
them. "But what on earth is that?"
The object to which he pointed was a small, oblong
piece of thin, much-worn silver, about the size of a rail-
way ticket. On one side of it was what seemed to be a
heraldic device or coat-of-arms, almost obliterated by
rubbing ; on the other, similarly worn down by friction,
was the figure of a horse.
"That's a curious object," remarked Spargo, picking
it up. "I never saw anything like that before. What
can it be?"
"Don't know — I never saw anything of the sort
either," said Rathbury. "Some old token, I should say.
Now this photo. Ah — ^you see, the photographer's name
and address have been torn away or broken off — ^there's
nothing left but just two letters of what's apparently
been the name of the town — see. Er — ^that's all there
is. Portrait of a baby, eh?"
Spargo gave, what might have been called in anybody
else but him, a casual glance at the baby's portrait. He
THE SILVER TICKET 131
picked up the silver ticket again and turned it over and
"Look here, Rathbury," he said. "Let me take this
silver thing. I know where I can find out what it is.
At least, I think I do."
' ' All right, ' ' £^reed the detective, ' ' but take the great-
est care of it, and don't tell a soul that we found it iu
this box, you know. No connection with the Marbury
case, Spargo, remember."
"Oh, all right," said Spargo. "Trust me."
He put the silver ticket in his pocket, and went back
to the office, wondering about this singular find. And
when he had written his article that evening, and seen a
proof of it, Spargo went into Fleet Street intent on
seeking peculiar information.
The haunt of well-informed men which Sparge had in
view when he turned out of the Watchman office lay well
hidden from ordinary sight and knowledge in one of
those Fleet Street courts the like of which is not else-
where in the world. Only certain folk knew of it. It
was, of course, a club ; otherwise it would not have been
what it was. It is the simplest thing in life, in Eng-
land, at any rate, to form a club of congenial spirits.
You get so many of your choice friends and acquaint-
ances to gather round you ; you register yourselves under
a name of your own choosing ; you take a house and fur-
nish it according to your means and your taste : you com-
ply with the very easy letter of the law, and there you
are. Keep within that easy letter, and you can do what
you please on your own premises. It is much more
agreeable to have a small paradise of your own of this
description than to lounge about Fleet Street bars.
The particular club to which Spargo bent his steps
was called the Oetoneumenoi. Who evolved this extraor-
dinary combination of Latin and Greek was a dark
mystery: there it was, however, on a tiny brass plate
you once reached the portals. The portals were gained
by devious ways. You turned out of Fleet Street by an
alley so narrow that it seemed as if you might suddenly
MARKET MILCASTER 133
find yourself squeezed between the ancient walls. Then
you suddenly dived down another alley and found your-
self in a small court, with high walls around you and a
smell of printer's ink in your nose and a whirring of
printing presses in your ears. You made another dive
into a dark entry, much encumbered by bales of paper,
crates of printing material, jars of printing ink; after
falling over a few of these you struck an ancient flight
of stairs and went up past various landings, always
travelling in a state of gloom and fear. After a lot of
twisting and turning you came to the very top of the
house and found it heavily curtained off. You lifted a
curtain and found yourself in a small entresol, some-
what artistically painted — the whole and sole work of
an artistic member who came one day with a formidable
array of lumber and paint-pots and worked his will on
the ancient wood. Then you saw the brass plate and
its fearful name, and beneath it the formal legal notice
that this club was duly registered and so on, and if you
were a member you went in, and if you weren't a mem-
ber you tinkled an electric bell and asked to see a mem-
ber — if you knew one.
Spargo was not a member, but he knew many members,
and he tinkled the bell, and asked the boy who answered
it for Mr. Starkey. Mr. Starkey, a young gentleman
with the biceps of a prize-fighter and a head of curly
hair that would have done credit to Antinous, came
forth in due course and shook Spargo by the hand until
his teeth rattled.
"Had we known you were coming," said Mr. Starkey,
"we'd have had a brass band on the stairs."
134. THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"I want to come in," remarked Spargo.
"Sure!" said Mr. Starkey. "That's what you've
"Well, stand out of the way, then, and let's get in,"
said Spargo. ' ' Look here, ' ' he continued when they had
penetrated into a small vestibule, "doesn't old Crow-
foot turn in here about this time every night ? ' '
"Every night as true as the clock, my son Spargo,
Crowfoot puts his nose in at precisely eleven, having by
that time finished that daily column wherein he informs
a section of the populace as to the prospects of their
spotting a winner tomorrow," answered Mr. Starkey.
"It's five minutes to his hour now. Come in and drink
till he comes. Want him?"
"A word with him," answered Spargo. "A mere
word — or two. ' '
He followed Starkey into a room which was so filled
with smoke and sound that for a moment it was im-
possible to either see or hear. But the smoke was gradu-
ally making itself into a canopy, and beneath the canopy
Spargo made out various groups of men of all ages,
sitting around small tables, smoking and drinking, and
all talking as if the great object of their lives was to get
as many words as possible out of their mouths in the
shortest possible time. In the further corner was a
small bar; Starkey pulled Spargo up to it.
"Name it, my son," commanded Starkey. "Try the
Octoneumenoi very extra special. Two of 'em, Dick.
Come to beg to be a member, Spargo ? ' '
" I '11 think about being a member of this ante-room of
the infernal regions when you start a ventilating fan
MARKET MILCASTER 135
and provide members with a route-map of the way from
Fleet Street," answered Spargo, taking his glass.
"Phew! — ^what an atmosphere!"
"We're considering a ventilating-f an, " said Starkey.
"I'm on the house committee now, and I brought that
very matter up at our last meeting. But Templeson, of
the Bulletin — ^you know Templeson — he says what we
want is a wine-cooler to stand under that sideboard —
says no club is proper without a wine-cooler, and that
he knows a chap — second-hand dealer, don't you know —
what has a beauty to dispose of in old Sheffield plate.
Now, if you were on our house committee, Spargo, old
man, would you go in for the wine-cooler or the ventilat-
ing fan ? You see ' '
"There is Crowfoot," said Spargo. "Shout him over
here, Starkey, before anybody else collars him."
Through the door by which Spargo had entered a few
minutes previously came a man who stood for a moment
blinking at the smoke and the lights. He was a tall, eld-
erly man with a figure and bearing of a soldier; a big,
sweeping moustache stood well out against a square-cut
jaw and beneath a prominent nose ; a pair of keen blue
eyes looked out from beneath a tousled mass of crinkled
hair. He wore neither hat nor cap ; his attire was a care-
lessly put on Norfolk suit of brown tweed ; he looked half-
unkempt, half-groomed. But knotted at the collar of
his flannel shirt were the colours of one of the most fa-
mous and exclusive cricket clubs in the world, and every-
body knew that in his day their wearer had been a
mighty figure in the public eye.
"Hi, Crowfoot!" shouted Starkey above the din and
186 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
babel. "Crowfoot, Crowfoot! Come over here, there's
a chap dying to see you ! "
' ' Yes, that 's the way to get him, isn 't it « " said Spargo.
"Here, I'll get him myself."
He went across the room and accosted the old sport-
"I want a quiet word with you," he said. "This
place is like a pandemonium."
Crowfoot led the way into a side alcove and ordered a
"Always is, this time," he said, yawning. "But it's
companionable. What is it, Spargo?"
Spargo took a pull at the gleiss which he had carried
with him. "I should say," he said, "that you know as
much about sporting matters as any man writing about
"Well, I think you might say it with truth," answered
"And old sporting matters?" said Spargo.
"Yes, and old sporting matters," replied the other
with a sudden flash of the eye. "Not that they greatly
interest the modern generation, you know."
"Well, there's something that's interesting me greatly
just now, anyway," said Spargo. "And I believe it's
got to do with old sporting affairs. And I came to you
for information about it, believing you to be the only
man I know of that could tell anything. ' '
"Yes— what is it?" asked Crowfoot.
Spargo drew out an envelope, and took from it the
carefuUy-wrapped-up silver ticket. He took off the
MARKET MILCASTER 137
wrappings and laid the ticket on Crowfoot's outstretched
"Can you tell me what that is?" he asked.
Another sudden flash came into the old sportsman's
eyes^-he eagerly turned the silver ticket over.
' ' God bless my soul ! " he exclaimed. ' ' Where did you
"Never mind, just now," replied Spargo. "You
know what it is?"
' ' Certainly I know what it is ! But — Gad ! I 've not
seen one of these things for Lord knows how many years.
It makes me feel something like a young 'un again!"
said Crowfoot. "Quite a young 'un!"
"But what is it?" asked Spargo.
Crowfoot turned the ticket over, showing the side on
which the heraldic device was almost worn away.
"It's one of the original silver stand tickets of the old
racecourse at Market Mileaster," answered Crowfoot.
"That's what it is. One of the old original silver stand
tickets. There are the arms of Market Mileaster, you
see, nearly worn away by much rubbing. There, on the
obverse, is the figure of a running horse. Oh, yes, that 's
what it is ! Bless me ! — most interesting. ' '
"Where's Market Mileaster?" enquired Spargo.
"Don't know it."
"Market Mileaster," replied Crowfoot, still turning
the silver ticket over and over, "is what the topographers
call a decayed town in Blmshire. It has steadily de-
cayed since the river that led to it got gradually silted
up. There used to be a famous race-meeting there in
138 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
June every year. It's nearly forty years since that meet-
ing fell through. I went to it often when I was a lad —
"And you say that's a ticket for the stand?" asked
"This is one of fifty silver tickets, or passes, or what-
ever you like to call 'em, which were given by the race
committee to fifty burgesses of the town," answered
Crowfoot. "It was, I remember, considered a great
privilege to possess a silver ticket. It admitted its pos-
sessor — for life, mind you ! — to the stand, the paddocks,
the ring, anywhere. It also gave him a place at the
annual race-dinner. Where on earth did you get this,
Spargo took the ticket and carefully re-wrapped it,
this time putting it in his purse.
"I'm awfully obliged to you, Crowfoot," he said.
"The fact is, I can't tell you where I got it just now,
but I'll promise you that I will tell you, and all about
it, too, as soon as my tongue 's free to do so. ' '
"Some mystery, eh?" suggested Crowfoot.
"Considerable," answered Spargo. "Don't mention
to anyone that I showed it to you. You shall know
everything eventually. ' '
"Oh, all right, my boy, all right!" said Crowfoot.
"Odd how things turn up, isn't it? Now, I'll wager
anything that there aren't half a dozen of these old
things outside Market Milcaster itself. As I said, there
were only fifty, and they were all in possession of
burgesses. They were so much thought of that they
were taken great care of. I've been in Market Milcaster
MARKET MILCASTER 139
myself since the races were given up, and I've seen these
tickets carefully framed and hung over mantelpieces —
oh, yes ! ' '
Spargo caught at a notion.
"How do you get to Market Milcaster?" he asked.
"Paddington," replied Crowfoot. "It's a goodish
"I wonder," said Spargo, "if there's any old sport-
ing man there who could remember — things. Anything
about this ticket, for instance ? ' '
"Old sporting man!" exclaimed Crowfoot. "Egad!
— but no, he must be dead — anyhow, if he isn 't dead, he
must be a veritable patriarch. Old Ben Quarterpage, he
was an auctioneer in the town, and a rare sportsman."
"I may go down there," said Spargo. "I'll see if
"Then, if you do go down," suggested Crowfoot, "go
to the old 'Yellow Dragon' in the High Street, a fine old
place. Quarterpage 's place of business and his private
house were exactly opposite the 'Dragon.' But I'm
afraid you'll find him dead — it's five and twenty years
since I was in Market Milcaster, and he was an old bird
then. Let's see, now. If Old Ben Quarterpage is alive,
Spargo, he'll be ninety years of age !"
"Well, I've known men of ninety who were spry
enough, even in my bit of experience," said Spargo. "I
know one — now — my own grandfather. "Well, the best
of thanks, Crowfoot, and I'll tell you all about it some
"Have another drink?" suggested Crowfoot.
But Spargo excused himself. He was going back to
14^ THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
the office, be said; he still had something to do. And
he got himself away from the Octoneumenoi, in spite of
Starkey, who wished to start a general debate on the
wisest way of expending the club 's ready money balance,
and went back to the Watchman, and there he sought the
presence of the editor, and in spite of the fact that it
was the busiest hour of the night, saw him and remained
closeted with him for the extraordinary space of ten
minutes. And after that Spargo went home and fell
But next morning, bright and early, he was on the
departure platform at Paddington, suit-case in hand,
and ticket in pocket for Market Milcaster, and in the
course of that afternoon he found himself in an old-
fashioned bedroom looking out on Market Milcaster High
Street. And there, right opposite him, he saw an ancient
house, old brick, ivy-covered, with an office at its side,
over the door of which was the name, Benjamin Quarter-
THE "YELLOW DRAGON"
Spargo, changing his clothes, washing away the dust
of his journey, in that old-fashioned lavender-scented
bedroom, busied his mind in further speculations on his
plan of campaign in Market Milcaster. He had no par-
ticularly clear plan. The one thing he was certain of
was that in the old leather box which the man whom he
knew as John Marbury had deposited with the London
and Universal Safe Deposit Company, he and Rathbury
had discovered one of the old silver tickets of Market
Milcaster racecourse, and that he, Spargo, had come to
Market Milcaster, with the full approval of his editor,
in an endeavour to trace it. How was he going to set
about this difficult task ?
"The first thing," said Spargo to himself as he tied
a new tie, "is to have a look round. That'll be no long
For he had already seen as he approached the town,
and as he drove from the station to the "Yellow Dragon"
Hotel, that Market Milcaster was a very small place. It
chiefly consisted of one long, wide thoroughfare — the
High Street — with smaller streets leading from it on
either side. In the High Street seemed to be every-
thing that the town could show — ^the ancient parish
142 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
church, the town hall, the market cross, the principal
houses and shops, the bridge, beneath which ran the
river whereon ships had once come up to the town be-
fore its mouth, four miles away, became impassably silted
up. It was a bright, clean, little town, but there were few
signs of trade in it, and Spargo had been quick to notice
that in the "Yellow Dragon," a big, rambling old
hostelry, reminiscent of the old coaching days, there
seemed to be little doing. He had eaten a bit of lunch
in the coffee-room immediately on his arrival ; the coffee-
room was big enough to accommodate a hundred and
fifty people, but beyond himself, an old gentleman and
his daughter, evidently tourists, two young men talking
golf, a man who looked like an artist, and an unmistak-
able honeymooning couple, there was no one in it. There
was little traflSc in the wide street beneath Spargo 's win-
dows; little passage of people to and fro on the side-
walks; here a countryman drove a lazy cow as lazily
along ; there a farmer in his light cart sat idly chatting
with an aproned tradesman, who had come out of his shop
to talk to him. Over everything lay the quiet of the sun-
light of the summer afternoon, and through the open
windows stole a faint, sweet scent of the new-mown hay
lying in the meadows outside the old houses.
"A veritable Sleepy Hollow," mused Spargo. "Let's
go down and see if there's anybody to talk to. Great
Scott ! — to think that I V7as in the poisonous atmosphere
of the Octoneumenoi only sixteen hours ago ! ' '
Spargo, after losing himself in various corridors and
passages, finally landed in the wide, stone-paved hall of
the old hotel, and vrith a sure instinct turned into the
THK "YELLOW DRAGON" 143
bar-parlour which he had noticed when he entered the
place. This was a roomy, comfortable, bow-windowed
apartment, looking out upon the High Street, and was
furnished and ornamented with the usual appurtenances
of country-town hotels. There were old chairs and
tables and sideboards and cupboards, which had certainly
been made a century before, and seemed likely to endure
for a century or two longer; there were old prints of
the road and the chase, and an old oil-painting or two
of red-faced gentlemen in pink coats; there were foxes'
masks on the wall, and a monster pike in a glass case on
a side-table ; there were ancient candlesticks on the man-
telpiece and an antique snuff-box set between them.
Also there was a small, old-fashioned bar in a corner of
the room, and a new-fashioned young woman seated be-
hind it, who was yawning over a piece of fancy needle-
work, and looked at Spargo when he entered as Andro-
meda may have looked at Perseus when he made arrival
at her rock. And Spargo, treating himself to a suitable
drink and choosing a cigar to accompany it, noted the
look, and dropped into the nearest chair.
"This," he remarked, eyeing the damsel with enquiry,
"appear^to me to be a very quiet place."
"Quiet ! " exclaimed the lady . " Quiet ? ' '
"That," continued Spargo, "is precisely what I ob-
served. Quiet. I see that you agree with me. You
expressed your agreement with two shades of emphasis,
the surprised and the scornful. We may conclude, thus
far, that the place is undoubtedly quiet. ' '
The damsel looked at Spargo as if she considered him
in the light of a new specimen, and picking up her
144 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE FURDER
needlework she quitted the bar and coming out into the
room took a chair near his own.
"It makes you thankful to see a funeral go by here,"
she remarked. "It's about all that one ever does see."
"Are there many?" asked Spargo. "Do the inhabi-
tants die much of inanition ? ' '
The damsel gave Spargo another critical inspection.
"Oh, you're joking!" she said. "It's well you can.
Nothing ever happens here. This place is a back num-
"Even the back numbers make pleasant reading at
times," murmured Spargo. "And the backwaters of
life are refreshing. Nothing doing in this town, then?"
he added in a louder voice.
' ' Nothing ! ' ' replied his companion. " It 's fast asleep.
I came here from Birmingham, and I didn't know what
I was coming to. In Birmingham you see as many peo-
ple in ten minutes as you see here in ten months. ' '
"Ah!" said Spargo. "What you are suffering from
is dulness. You must have an antidote."
' ' Dulness ! ' ' exclaimed the damsel. " That 's the right
word for Market Milcaster. There's just a few regular
old customers drop in here of a morning, between eleven
and one. A stray caller looks in — perhaps — during the
afternoon. Then, at night, a lot of old fogies sit round
that end of the room and talk about old times. Old
times, indeed! — what they want in Market Milcaster is
Spargo pricked up his ears.
"Well, but it's rather interesting to hear old fogies
talk about old times," he said. "I love it!"
THE "YELLOW DRAGON" 145
"Then you can get as much of it as ever you want
here," remarked the barmaid. "Look in tonight any
time after eight o'clock, and if you don't know more
about the history of Market Milcaster by ten than you
did when you sat down, you must be deaf. There are
some old gentlemen drop in here every night, regular as
clockwork, who seem to feel that they couldn't go to bed
unless they've told each other stories about old days
which I should think they've heard a thousand times
"Very old men?" asked Spargo.
"Methuselahs," replied the lady. "There's old Mr.
Quarterpage, across the way there, the auctioneer, though
he doesn't do any business now — they say he's ninety,
though I'm sure you wouldn't take him for more than
seventy. And there's Mr. Lummis, further down the
street — he's eighty-one. And Mr. Skene, and Mr. Kaye
— they're regular patriarchs. I've sat here and listened
to th^m till I believe I could write a history of Market
Milcaster since the year One."
"I can conceive of that as a pleasant and profitable
occupation," said Spargo.
He chatted a while longer in a fashion calculated to
cheer the barmaid's spirits, after which he went out and
strolled around the town until seven o'clock, the
"Dragon's" hour for dinner. There were no more peo-
ple in the big coffee-room than there had been at lunch
and Spargo was glad, when his solitary meal was over, to
escape to the bar-parlour, where he took his coffee in a
corner near to that sacred part in which the old towns-
men had been reported to him to sit.
146 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"And mind you don't sit in one of their chairs," said
the barmaid, warningly. ' ' They all have their own spe-
cial chairs and their special pipes there on that rack, and
I suppose the ceiling would fall in if anybody touched
pipe or chair. But you're all right there, and you'll
hear all they've got to say."
To Spargo, who had never seen anything of the sort
before, and who, twenty-four hours previously, would
have believed the thing impossible, the proceedings of
that evening in the bar-parlour of the "Yellow Dragon"
at Market Milcaster were like a sudden transference to
the eighteenth century. Precisely as the clock struck
eight and a bell began to toll somewhere in the recesses
of the High Street, an old gentleman walked in, and the
barmaid, catching Spargo 's eye, gave him a glance which
showed that the play was about to begin.
"Good evening, Mr. Kaye," said the barmaid.
"You're first tonight. "
"Evening," said Mr. Kaye and took a seat, scowled
around him, and became silent. He was a tall, lank old
gentleman, clad in rusty black clothes, with a pointed
collar sticking up on both sides of his fringe of grey
whisker and a voluminous black neckcloth folded sev-
eral times round his neck, and by the expression of his
countenance was inclined to look on life severely. "No-
body been in yet ? " asked Mr. Kaye.
"No, but here's Mr. Lummis and Mr. Skene," replied
Two more old gentlemen entered the bar-parlour.
Of these, one was a little, dapper-figured man, clad in
clothes of an eminently sporting cut, and of very loud
THE "YELLOW DRAGON" 147
pattern; he sported a bright blue necktie, a flower in
his lapel, and a tall white hat, which he wore at a rakish
angle. The other was a big, portly, bearded man with
a Falstaffian swagger and a rakish eye, who chaffed the
barmaid as he entered, and gave her a good-humoured
chuck under the chin as he passed her.^ These two also
sank into chairs which seemed to have been specially
designed to meet them, and the stout man slapped the
arms of his as familiarly as he had greeted the barmaid.
He looked at his two cronies.
' ' Well ? " he said. ' ' Here 's three of us. And there 's
"Wait a bit, wait a bit," said the dapper little man.
"Grandpa '11 be here in a minute. We'll start fair."
The barmaid glanced out of the window.
"There's Mr. Quarterpage coming across the street
now," she announced. "Shall I put the things on the
"Aye, put them on, my dear, put them on!" com-
manded the fat man. "Have all in readiness."
The barmaid thereupon placed a round table before
the sacred chairs, set out upon it a fine old punch-bowl
and the various ingredients for making punch, a box of
cigars, and an old leaden tobacco-box, and she had just
completed this interesting prelude to the evening's dis-
course when the door opened again and in walked one of
the most remarkable old men Spargo had ever seen.
And by this time, knowing that this was the venerable
Mr. Benjamin Quarterpage, of whom Crowfoot had told
him, he took good stock of the newcomer as he took his
place amongst his friends, who on their part received
148 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
him with ebullitions of delight which were positively
Mr. Quarterpage was a youthful buck of ninety— a
middle-sized, sturdily-built man, straight as a dart, still
active of limb, clear-eyed, and strong of voice. His
clean-shaven old countenance was ruddy as a sun-
warmed pippin; his hair was still only silvered; his
hand was steady as a rock. His clothes of buff-coloured
whipcord were smart and jaunty, his neckerchief as gay
as if he had been going to a fair. It seemed to Spargo
that Mr. Quarterpage had a pretty long lease of life be-
fore him even at his age.
Spargo, in his corner, sat fascinated while the old gen-
tlemen began their symposium. Another, making five,
came in and joined them — the live had the end of the
bar-parlour to themselves. Mr. Quarterpage made the
punch with all due solemnity and ceremony ; when it was
ladled out each man lighted his pipe or took a cigar, and
the tongues began to wag. Other folk came and went;
the old gentlemen were oblivious of anything but their
own talk. Now and then a young gentleman of the
town dropped in to take his modest half-pint of bitter
beer and to dally in the presence of the barmaid ; such
looked with awe at the patriarchs : as for the patriarchs
themselves they were lost in the past.
Spargo began to understand what the damsel behind
the bar meant when she said that she believed she could
write a history of Market Milcaster since the year One.
After discussing the weather, the local events of the
day, and various personal matters, the old fellows got to
reminiscences of the past, telling tale after tale, recalling
THE "YELLOW DRAGON" 149
incident upon incident of long years before. At last
they turned to memories of racing days at Market Mil-
caster. And at that Spargo determined on a bold stroke.
Now was the time to get some information. Taking the
silver ticket from his purse, he laid it, the heraldic device
uppermost, on the palm of his hand, and approaching
the group with a polite bow, said quietly :
"Gentlemen, can any of you tell me anything about
MR. QUARTERPAGE HARKS BACK
If Spargo had upset the old gentlemen's bowl of punch
— the second of the evening — or had dropped an infernal
machine in their midst, he could scarcely have produced
a more startling effect than that wrought upon them by
his sudden production of the silver ticket. Their babble
of conversation died out ; one of them dropped his pipe ;
another took his cigar out of his mouth as if he had sud-
denly discovered that he was sucking a stick of poison ;
all lifted astonished faces to the interrupter, staring
from him to the shining object exhibited in his out-
stretched palm, from it back to him. And at last Mr.
Quarterpage, to whom Spargo had more particularly ad-
dressed himself, spoke, pointing with great empresse-
ment to the ticket.
"Young gentleman!" he said, in accents that seemed
to Spargo to tremble a little, "young gentleman, where
did you get that?"
"Tou know what it is, then?" asked Spargo, willing
to dally a little with the matter. "Tou recognize it?"
"Know it! Recognize it!" exclaimed Mr. Quarter-
page. ' ' Yes, and so does every gentleman present. And
it is just because I see you are a stranger to this town
MR. QUARTERPAGE HARKS BACK 151
that I ask you where you got it. Not, I think, young
gentleman, in this town."
"No," replied Sparge. "Certainly not in this town.
How should I get it in this town if I 'm a stranger ? ' '
"Quite true, quite true!" murmured Mr. Quarter-
page. "I cannot conceive how any person in the town
who is in possession of one of those — what shall we call
them — heirlooms? — yes, heirlooms of antiquity, could
possibly be base enough to part with it. Therefore, I
ask again — ^Where did you get that, young gentleman ? ' '
"Before I tell you that," answered Spargo, who, in
answer to a silent sign from the fat man had drawn a
chair amongst them, "perhaps you will tell me exactly
what this is? I see it to be a bit of old, polished, much
worn silver, having on the obverse the arms or heraldic
bearings of somebody or something; on the reverse the
figure of a running horse. But — what is it ? "
The five old men all glanced at each other and made
simultaneous grunts. Then Mr. Quarterpage spoke.
"It is one of the original fifty burgess tickets of Mar-
ket Milcaster, young sir, which gave its holder special
and greatly valued privileges in respect to attendance at
our once famous race-meeting, now unfortunately a thing
of the past," he added. "Fifty— aye, forty!— years
ago, to be in possession of one of those tickets was —
was — — "
"A grand thing!" said one of the old gentlemen.
"Mr. Lummis is right," said Mr. Quarterpage. "It
was a grand thing — a very grand thing. Those tickets,
sir, were treasured — are treasured. And yet you, a
stranger, show us one! You got it, sir "
152 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Spargo saw that it was now necessary to cut matters
"I found this ticket — ^under mysterious circumstances
— iQ London," he answered. "I want to trace it. I
want to know who its original owner was. That is why
I have come to Market Milcaster. ' '
Mr. Quarterpage slowly looked round the circle of
"Wonderful!" he said. "Wonderful! He found
this ticket — one of our famous fifty — ^in London, and
under mysterious circumstances. He wants to trace it —
he wants to know to whom it belonged! That is why
he has come to Market Milcaster. Most extraordinary!
Gentlemen, I appeal to you if this is not the most ex-
traordinary event that has happened in Market Milcaster
for — I don't know how many years?"
There was a general murmur of assent, and Spargo
found everybody looking at him as if he had just an-
nounced that he had come to buy the whole town.
"But — ^why?" he asked, showing great surprise.
"Why?" exclaimed Mr. Quarterpage. "Why? He
asks — ^why? Because, young gentleman, it is the great-
est surprise to me, and to these friends of mine, too,
every man jack of 'em, to hear that any one of our fifty
tickets ever passed out of the possession of any of the
fifty families to whom they belonged! And unless I
am vastly, greatly, most unexplainably mistaken, young
sir, you are not a member of any Market Milcaster
family. ' '
"No, I'm not," admitted Spargo. And he was going
MR. QUARTERPAGE HARKS BACK 153
to add that until the previous evening he had never even
heard of Market Milcaster, but he wisely refrained.
"No, I'm certainly not," he added.
Mr. Quarterpage waved his long pipe.
"I believe," he said, "I believe that if the evening
were not drawing to a close — it is already within a few
minutes of our departure, young gentleman — I believe,
I say, that if I had time, I could, from memory, give
the names of the fifty families who held those tickets
when the raee-meeting came to an end. I believe I
"I'm sure you could!" asserted the little man in the
loud suit. "Never was such a memory as yours,
never ! ' '
"Especially for anything relating to the old racing
matters," said the fat man. "Mr. Quarterpage is a
"My memory is good," said Mr. Quarterpage. "It's
the greatest blessing I have in my declining years.
Yes, I am sure I could do that, with a little thought.
And what 's more, nearly every one of those fifty families
is still in the town, or if not in the town, close by it, or
if not close by it, I know where they are. Therefore, I
cannot make out how this young gentleman — from Lon-
don, did you say, sir?"
"From London," answered Sparge.
"This young gentleman from London comes to be
in possession of one of our tickets," continued Mr.
Quarterpage. ' ' It is — wonderful ! But I tell you what,
young gentleman from London, if you will do me the
honour to breakfast with me in the morning, sir, I will
154 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
show you my racing books and papers and we will
speedily discover who the original holder of that ticket
was. My name, sir, is Quarterpage — Benjamin Quar-
terpage — and I reside at the ivy-covered house exactly
opposite this inn, and my breakfast hour is nine o 'clock
sharp, and I shall bid you heartily welcome!"
Spargo made his best bow.
'^ir," he said, "I am greatly obliged by your kind
invitation, and I shall consider it an honour to wait
upon you to the moment."
Accordingly, at five minutes to nine next morning,
Spargo found himself in an old-fashioned parlour, look-
ing out upon a delightful garden, gay with summer flow-
ers, and being introduced by Mr. Quarterpage, Senior,
to Mr. Quarterpage, Junior — a pleasant gentleman of
sixty, always referred to by his father as something
quite juvenile — and to Miss Quarterpage, a young-old
lady of something a little less elderly than her brother,
and to a breakfast table bounteously spread with all the
choice fare of the season. Mr. Quarterpage, Senior, was
as fresh and rosy as a cherub; it was a revelation to
Spargo to encounter so old a man who was still in pos-
session of such life and spirits, and of such a vigorous
and healthy appetite.
Naturally, the talk over the breakfast table ran on
Spargo 's possessi-on of the old silver ticket, upon which
subject it was evident Mr. Quarterpage was still exer-
cising his intellect. And Spargo, who had judged it well
to enlighten his host as to who he was, and had exhibited
a letter with which the editor of the Watchman had fur-
nished him, told how in the exercise of his journalistic
MR. QUARTERPAGE HARKS BACK 155
duties he had discovered the ticket in the lining of an
old box. But he made no mention of the Marbury mat-
ter, being anxious to see first whither Mr. Quarterpage's
revelations would lead him.
"You have no idea, Mr. Spargo," said the old gentle-
man, when, breakfast over, he and Spargo were closeted
together in a little library in which were abundant evi-
dences of the host's taste in sporting matters; "you have
no idea of the value which was attached to the possession
of one of those silver tickets. There is mine, as you see,
securely framed and just as securely fastened to the wall.
Those fifty silver tickets, my dear sir, were made when
our old race-meeting was initiated, in the year 1781.
They were made in the town by a local silversmith,
whose great-great-grandson still carries on the business.
The fifty were distributed amongst the fifty leading
burgesses of the town to be kept in their families for
ever — nobody ever anticipated in those days that our
race-meeting would ever be discontinued. The ticket
carried great privileges. It made its holder, and all
members of his family, male and female, free of the
stands, rings, and paddocks. It gave the holder him-
self and his eldest son, if of age, the right to a seat at
our grand race banquet — at which, I may tell you, Mr.
Spargo, Royalty itself has been present in the good old
days. Consequently, as you see, to be the holder of a
silver ticket was to be somebody."
"And when the race-meeting fell through?" asked
Spargo. "What then?"
"Then, of course, the families who held the tickets
looked upon them as heirlooms, to be taken great care
156 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
of," replied Mr. Quarterpage. , "They were dealt with
as I dealt with mine — framed on velvet, and hung up —
or locked away: I am sure that anybody who had one
took the greatest care of it. Now, I said last night, over
there at the 'Dragon,' that I could repeat the names of
all the families who held these tickets. So I can. But
here" — the old gentleman drew out a drawer and pro-
duced from it a parchment-bound book which he han-
dled with great reverence — "here is a little volume of
my own handwriting — memoranda relating to Market
Milcaster Races — in which is a list of the original hold-
ers, together with another list showing who held the
tickets when the races were given up. I make bold to
say, Mr. Spargo, that by going through the second list,
I could trace every ticket — except the one you have in
your purse. ' '
"Every one?" said Spargo, in some surprise.
"Every one! For as I told you," continued Mr.
Quarterpage, "the families are either in the town (we're
a conservative people here in Market Milcaster and we
don't move far afield) or they're just outside the town,
or they're not far away. I can't conceive how the ticket
you have — and it's genuine enough — could ever get out
of possession of one of these families, and "
"Perhaps," suggested Spargo, "it never has been out
of possession. I told you it was found in the lining of a
box — that box belonged to a dead man. ' '
"A dead man!" exclaimed Mr. Quarterpage. "A
dead man ! Who could — ah ! Perhaps — perhaps I have
an idea. Yes ! — an idea. I remember something now
that I had never thought of. ' '
MR. QUARTERPAGE HARKS BACK 157
The old gentleman unfastened the clasp of his parch-
ment-bound book, and turned over its pages until he
came to one whereon was a list of names. He pointed
this out to Spargo.
"There is the list of holders of the silver tickets at
the time the race-meetings came to an end," he said.
"If you were acquainted with this town you would know
that those are the names of our best-known inhabitants —
all, of course, burgesses. There's mine, you see — Quar-
terpage. There's Lummis, there's Kaye, there's Skene,
there's Templeby — the gentlemen you saw last night.
All good old town names. They all are — on this list.
I know every family mentioned. The holders of that
time are many of them dead; but their successors have
the tickets. Yes — and now that I think of it, there's
only one man who held a ticket when this list was made
about whom I don 't know anything — at least, anything
recent. The ticket, Mr. Spargo, which you've found
must have been his. But I thought — I thought some-
body else had it ! "
"And this man, sir? Who was he?" asked Spargo,
intuitively conscious that he was coming to news. "Is
his name there ? ' '
The old man ran the tip of his finger down the list of
"There it is!" he said. "John Maitland."
Spargo bent over the fine writing.
"Yes, John Maitland," he observed. "And who was
Mr. Quarterpage shook his head. He turned to an-
other of the many drawers in an ancient bureau, and
158 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
began to search amongst a mass of old newspapers, care-
fully sorted into small bundles and tied up.
"If you had lived in Market Milcaster one-and-
twenty years ago, Mr. Spargo," he said, "you would
have known who John Maitland was. For some time,
sir, he was the best-known man in the place — aye, and
in this corner of the world. But — aye, here it is — ^the
newspaper of October 5th, 1891. Now, Mr. Spargo,
you'll find in this old newspaper who John Maitland
was, and all about him. Now, I'll tell you what to do.
I've just got to go into my office for an hour to talk
the day 's business over with my son — you take this news-
paper out into the garden there with one of these cigars,
and read what '11 you find in it, and when you've read
that we'll have some more talk."
Spargo carried the old newspaper into the sunlit
AN OLD NEWSPAPER
As soon as Spargo unfolded the paper he saw what
he wanted on the middle page, headed in two lines of big
capitals. He lighted a cigar and settled down to read.
"Market Milcastek Quarter Sessions
"Trial of John Maitland
"The Quarter Sessions for the Borough of Market
Milcaster were held on Wednesday last, October 3rd,
1891, in the Town Hall, before the Recorder, Henry
John Campernowne, Esq., K.C., who was accompanied
on the bench by the Worshipful the Mayor of Market
Milcaster (Alderman Pettiford), the Vicar of Market
Milcaster (the Rev. P. B. Clabberton, M.A., R.D.),
Alderman Danks, J.P., Alderman Peters, J.P., Sir
Gervais Raeton, J.P., Colonel Fludgate, J. P., Captain
Murrill, J.P., and other magistrates and gentlemen.
There was a crowded attendance of the public in an-
ticipation of the trial of John Maitland, ex-manager
of the Market Milcaster Bank, and the reserved por-
tions of the Court were filled with the elite of the town
and neighbourhood, including a considerable number
of ladies who manifested the greatest interest in the
160 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"The Recorder, in charging the Grand Jury, said
he regretted that the very pleasant and gratifying
experience which had been his upon the occasion of
his last two official visits to Market Milcaster — he re-
ferred to the fact that on both those occasions his
friend the Worshipful Mayor had been able to present
him with a pair of white gloves — was not to be re-
peated on the present occasion. It would be their sad
and regrettable lot to have before them a fellow-
townsman whose family had for generations occupied
a foremost position in the life of the borough. That
fellow-townsman was charged with one of the most
serious offences known to a commercial nation like
ours : the offence of embezzling the moneys of the bank
of which he had for many years been the trusted man-
ager, and with which he had been connected aU his life
since his school days. He understood that the prisoner
who iSyould shortly be put before the court on his trial
was about to plead guilty, and there would accordingly
be no need for him to direct the gentlemen of the
Grand Jury on this matter — what he had to say re-
specting the gravity and even enormity of the offence
he would reserve. The Recorder then addressed him-
self to the Grand Jury on the merits of two minor
cases, which came before the court at a later period
of the morning, after which they retired, and having
formally returned a true bill against the prisoner, and
a petty jury, chosen from well-known burgesses of
the town having been duly sworn,
"John Maitland, aged 42, bank manager, of the
Bank House, High Street, Market Milcaster, was for-
AN OLD NEWSPAPER 161
mally charged with embezzling, on April 23rd, 1891,
the sum of £4,875 10s. 6d., the moneys of his em-
ployers, the Market Milcaster Banking Company Ltd.,
and converting the same to his own use. The pris-
oner, who appeared to feel his position most acutely,
and who looked very pale and much worn, was repre-
sented by Mr. Charles Doolittle, the well-known bar-
rister of Kingshaven; Mr. Stephens, K.C., appeared
on behalf of the prosecution.
"Maitland, upon being charged, pleaded guilty.
"Mr. Stephens, K.C., addressing the Recorder, said
that without any desire to unduly press upon the pris-
oner, who, he ventured to think, had taken a very wise
course in pleading guilty to that particular count in
the indictment with which he stood charged, he felt
bound, in the interests of justice, to set forth to the
Court some particulars of the defalcations which had
arisen through the prisoner's much lamented dis-
honesty. He proposed to offer a clear and succinct
account of the matter. The prisoner, John Maitland,
was the last of an old Market Milcaster family — he
was, in fact, he believed, with the exception of his own
infant son, the very last of the race. His father had
been manager of the bank before him. Maitland him-,
self had entered the service of the bank at the age
of eighteen, when he left the local Grammar School;-
he succeeded his father as manager at the age of
thirty-two ; he had therefore occupied this highest po-
sition of trust for ten years. His directors had the
fullest confidence in him; they relied on his honesty
and his honour; they gave him discretionary powers
162 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
such as no bank-manager, probably, ever enjoyed or
held before. In fact, he was so trusted that he was,
to all intents and purposes, the Market Milcaster Bank-
ing Company ; in other words he was allowed full con-
trol over everything, and given full licence to do what
he liked. Whether the directors were wise in extend-
ing such liberty to even the most trusted servant, it
was not for him (Mr. Stephens) to say; it was some
consolation, under the circumstances, to know that
the loss would fall upon the directors, inasmuch as
they themselves held nearly the whole of the shares.
But he had to speak of the loss — of the serious de-
falcations which Maitland had committed. The pris-
oner had wisely pleaded guilty to the first count of
the indictment. But there were no less than seventeen
counts in the indictment. He had pleaded guilty to
embezzling a sum of £4,875 odd. But the total amount
of the defalcations, comprised in the seventeen counts,
was no less — it seemed a most amazing sum! — ^than
£221,573 8s. 6d.\ There was the fact— the banking
company had been robbed of over two hundred thou-
sand pounds by the prisoner in the dock before a mere
accident, the most trifling chance, had revealed to the
astounded directors that he was robbing them at all.
And the most serious feature of the whole case was
that not one penny of this money had been, or ever
could be, recovered. He believed that the prisoner's
learned counsel was about to urge upon the Court that
the prisoner himself had been tricked and deceived by
another man, unfortunately not before the Court— a
man, he understood, also well known in Market Mil-
AN OLD NEWSPAPER 163
caster, who was now dead, and therefore could not be
called, but whether he was so tricked or deceived was
no excuse for his clever and wholesale robbing of his
employers. Hje had thought it necessary to put these
facts — ^which would not be denied — ^before the Court,
in order that it might be known how heavy the defal-
cations really had been, and that they should be con-
sidered in dealing with the prisoner.
"The Eecorder asked if there was no possibility of
recovering any part of the vast sum concerned.
"Mr. Stephens replied that they were informed that
there was not the remotest chance — the money, it was
said by prisoner and those acting on his behalf, had
utterly vanished with the death of the man to whom
he had just made reference.
"Mr. Doolittle, on behalf of the prisoner, craved to
address a few words to the Court in mitigation of sen-
tence. He thanked Mr. Stephens for the considerate
and eminently dispassionate manner in which he had
outlined the main facts of the case. He had no de-
sire to minimize the prisoner's guilt. But, on pris-
oner's behalf, he desired to tell the true story as
to how these things came to be. Until as recently
as three years previously the prisoner had never
made the slightest deviation from the straight path
of integrity. Unfortunately for him, and, he be-
lieved, for some others in Market Mileaster, there
came to the town three years before the present
proceedings, a man named Chamberlayne, who com-
menced business in the High Street as a stock-and-
share broker. A man of good address and the most
164 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
plausible manners, Chamberlayne attracted a good
many people — amongst them his unfortunate client.
It was matter of common knowledge that Chamber-
layne had induced numerous persons in Market Mil-
caster to enter into financial transactions with him;
it was matter of common repute that those transac-
tions had not always turned out well for Chamber-
layne 's clients. Unhappily for himself, Maitland had
great faith in Chamberlayne. He had begun to have
transactions with him in a large way ; they had gone on
and on in a large way until he was involved to vast
amounts. Believing thoroughly in Chamberlayne and
his methods, he had entrusted him with very large
sums of money.
"The Recorder interrupted Mr. Doolittle at this
point to ask if he was to understand that Mr. Doo-
little was referring to the prisoner's own money.
"Mr. Doolittle replied that he was afraid the large
sums he referred to were the property of the bank.
But the prisoner had such belief in Chamberlayne that
he firmly anticipated that all would be weU, and that
these sums would be repaid, and that a vast profit
would result from their use.
"The Recorder remarked that he supposed the pris-
oner intended to put the profit into his own pockets.
"Mr. Doolittle said at any rate the prisoner as-
sured him that of the two hundred and twenty thou-
sand pounds which was in question, Chamberlayne
had had the immediate handling of at least two hun-
dred thousand, and he, the prisoner, had not the ghost
of a notion as to what Chamberlayne had done with it.
AN OLD NEWSPAPER 165
Unfortunately for everybody, for the bank, for some
other people, and especially for his unhappy client,
Chamberlayne died, very suddenly, just as these pro-
ceedings were instituted, and so far it had been ab-
solutely impossible to trace anything of the moneys
concerned. He had died under mysterious circum-
stances, and there was just as much mystery about his
"The Recorder observed that he was still waiting
to hear what Mr. Doolittle had to urge in mitigation
of any sentence he, the Recorder, might think fit to
"Mr. Doolittle said that he would trouble the Court
with as few remarks £is possible. All that he could
urge on behalf of the unfortunate man in the dock
was that until three years ago he had borne a most
exemplary character, and had never committed a dis-
honest action. It had been his misfortune, his folly,
to allow a plausible man to persuade him to these acts
of dishonesty. That man had been called to another
account, and the prisoner was left to bear the conse-
quences of his association with him. It seemed as if
Chamberlayne had made away with the money for his
own purposes, and it might be that it would yet be
recovered. He would only ask the Court to remember
the prisoner's antecedents and his previous good con-
duct, and to bear in mind that whatever his near fu-
ture might be he was, in a commercial sense, ruined
"The Recorder, in passing sentence, said that he
had not heard a single word of valid excuse for Mait-
166 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
laud's conduct. Such dishonesty must be punished
in the most severe fashion, and the prisoner must go
to penal servitude for ten years.
"Maitland, who heard the sentence unmoved, was
removed from the town later in the day to the county
jail at Saxehester. ' '
Spargo read all this swiftly; then went over it again,
noting certain points in it. At last he folded up the
newspaper and turned to the house — to see old Quar-
terpage beckoning to him from the library window.
THE CHAMBERLAYNB STORY
"I perceive, sir," said Mr. Quarterpage, as Spargo
entered the library, "that you have read the account of
the Maitland trial."
"Twice," replied Spargo.
"And you have come to the conclusion that — but what
conclusion have you come to?" asked Mr. Quarterpage.
"That the silver ticket in my purse was Maitland 's
property," said Spargo, who was not going to give all
his conclusions at once.
"Just so," agreed the old gentleman. "I think so —
I can't think anything else. But I was under the im-
pression that I could have accounted for that ticket,
just as I am sure I can account for the other forty-nine. ' '
"Yes — and how?" asked Spargo.
Mr. Quarterpage turned to a comer cupboard and in
silence produced a decanter and two curiously-shaped
old wine-glasses. He carefully polished the glasses with
a cloth which he took from a drawer, and set glasses and
decanter on a table in the window, motioning Spargo to
take a chair in proximity thereto. He himself p Jled
up his own elbow-chair.
"We'll take a glass of my old brown sherry," he said.
168 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"Though I say it as shouldn't, as the saying goes, I
don't think you could find better brown sherry than that
from Land's End to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Mr. Spargo—
no, nor further north either, where they used to have
good taste in liquor in my young days! "Well, here's
your good health, sir, and I'll tell you about Maitland."
"I'm curious," said Spargo. "And about more than
Maitland. I want to know about a lot of things arising
out of that newspaper report. I want to know something
about the man referred to so much — the stockbroker,
Chamberlayne. ' '
"Just so," observed Mr. Quarterpage, smiling. "I
thought that would touch your sense of the inquisitive.
Biit Maitland first. Now, when Maitland went to prison,
he left behind him a child, a boy, just then about two
years old. The child's mother was dead. Her sister,
a Miss Baylis, appeared on the scene — Maitland had
married his wife from a distance — and took possession
of the child and of Maitland 's personal effects. He had
been made bankrupt while he was awaiting his trial, and
all his household goods were sold. But this Miss Baylis
took some small personal things, and I always believed
that she took the silver ticket. And she may have done,
for anything I know to the contrary. Anyway, she took
the c^ild away, and there was an end of the Maitland
family in Market Milcaster. Maitland, of course, was
in due procedure of things removed to Dartmoor, and
there he served his term. There were people who were
very anxious to get hold of him when he came out — ^the
bank people, for they believed that he knew more about
the disposition of that money than he'd ever told, and
THE CHAMBERLAYNE STORY 169
they wanted to induce him to tell what they hoped he
knew — between ourselves, Mr. Spargo, they were going
to make it worth his while to tell. ' '
Spargo tapped the newspaper, which he had retained
while the old gentleman talked.
"Then they didn't believe what his counsel said — that
Chamberlayne got all the money?" he asked.
Mr. Quarterpage laughed.
"No — nor anybody else!" he answered. "There was
a strong idea in the town — you '11 see why afterwards —
that it was all a put-up job, and that Maitland cheer-
fully underwent his punishment knowing that there was
a nice fortune waiting for him when he came out. And
as I say, the bank people meant to get hold of him. But
though they sent a special agent to meet him on his re-
lease, they never did get hold of him. Some mistake
arose — when Maitland was released, he got clear away.
Nobody's ever heard a word of him from that day to
this. Unless Miss Baylis has. ' '
"Where does this Miss Baylis live?" asked Spargo.
"Well, I don't know," replied Mr. Quarterpage.
"She did live in Brighton when she took the child away,
and her address was known, and I have it somewhere.
But when the bank people sought her out after Mait-
land 's release, she, too, had clean disappeared, and all
efforts to trace her failed. In fact,; according to the
folks who lived near her in Brighton, she'd completely
disappeared, with the child, five years before. So there
wasn 't a clue to Maitland. He served his time — made a
model prisoner — they did find that much out! — earned
the maximum remission, was released, and vanished.
170 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
And for that very reason there 's a theory about him in
this very town to this very day ! ' '
"What?" asked Spargo.
"This. That he's now living comfortably, luxuri-
ously abroad on what he got from the bank," replied
Mr. Quarterpage. "They say that the sister-in-law was
in at the game ; that when she disappeared with the child,
she went abroad somewhere and made a home ready for
Maitland, and that he went off to them as soon as he
came out. Do you see?"
"I suppose that was possible," said Spargo.
"Quite possible, sir. But now," continued the old
gentleman, replenishing the glasses, "now we come on
to the Chamberlayne story. It's a good deal more to
do with the Maitland story than appears at first sight.
I'll tell it to you and you can form your own conclusions.
Chamberlayne was a man who came to Market Milcaster
— I don't know from where — in 1886 — ^five years before
the Maitland smash-up. He was then about Maitland 's
age — a man of thirty-seven or eight. He came as clerk
to old Mr. Vallas, the rope and twine manufacturer:
Vallas's place is still there, at the bottom of the High
Street, near the river, though old Vallas is dead. He
was a smart, cute, pushing chap, this Chamberlayne ; he
made himself indispensable to old Vallas, and old Vallas
paid him a rare good salary. He settled down in the
town, and he married a town girl, one of the Corkin-
dales, the saddlers, when he'd been here three years.
Unfortunately she died in childbirth withia a year of
their marriage. It was very soon after that that Cham-
berlayne threw up his post at Vallas's, and started busi-
THE CHAMBERLAYNE STORY 171
ness as a stock-and-share broker. He'd been a saving
man ; he 'd got a nice bit of money with his wife ; he al-
ways let it be known that he had money of his own, and
he started in a good way. He was a man of the most
plausible manners; he'd have coaxed butter out of a
dog's throat if he'd wanted to. The moneyed men of
the town believed in him — I believed in him myself, Mr.
Spargo — I'd many a transaction with him, and I never
lost aught by him — on the contrary, he did very well
for me. He did well for most of his clients — there were,
of course, ups and downs, but on the whole he satisfied
his clients uncommonly well. But, naturally, nobody
ever knew what was going on between him and Mait-
"I gather from this report," said Spargo, "that every-
thing came out suddenly — unexpectedly?"
"That was so, sir," replied Mr. Quarterpage. "Sud-
den? Unexpected? Aye, as a crack of thunder on a
fine winter's day. Nobody had the ghost of a notion
that anything was wrong. John Maitland was much
respected in the town ; much thought of by everybody ;
well known to everybody. I can assure you, Mr. Spargo,
that it was no pleasant thing to have to sit on that grand
jury as I did — I was its foreman, sir, — and hear a man
sentenced that you'd regarded as a bosom friend. But
there it was!"
"How was the thing discovered?" asked Spargo, anx-
ious to get at facts.
' ' In this way, ' ' replied Mr. Quarterpage. ' ' The Mar-
ket Milcaster Bank is in reality almost entirely the prop-
erty of two old families in the town, the Gutchbys and
172 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
the Hostables. Owing to the death of his father, a young
Hostable, fresh from college, came into the business.
He was a shrewd, keen young fellow ; he got some sus-
picion, somehow, about Maitland, and he insisted on the
other partners consenting to a special investigation, and
on their making it suddenly. And Maitland was caught
before he had a chance. But we're talking about Cham-
berlayne. ' '
"Yes, about Chamberlayne, " agreed Spargo.
"Well, now, Maitland was arrested one evening," con-
tinued Mr. Quarterpage. "Of course, the news of his
arrest ran through the town like wild-fire. Everybody
was astonished ; he was at that time — aye, and had been
for years — a churchwarden at the Parish Church, and I
don't think there could have been more surprise if we'd
heard that the Vicar had been arrested for bigamy. In
a little town like this, news is all over the place in a few
minutes. Of course, Chamberlayne would hear that
news like everybody else. But it was remembered, and
often remarked upon afterwards, that from the moment
of Maitland 's arrest nobody in Market Milcaster ever
had speech with Chamberlayne again. After his wife's
death he'd taken to spending an hour or so of an eve-
ning across there at the 'Dragon,' where you saw me
and my friends last night, but on that night he didn't
go to the 'Dragon.' And next morning he caught the
eight o'clock train to London. He happened to remark
to the stationmaster as he got into the train that he ex-
pected to be back late that night, and that he should
have a tiring day of it. But Chamberlayne didn't come
back that night, Mr. Spargo. He didn't come back to
THE CHAMBERLAYNE STORY 173
Market Milcaster for four days, and when he did come
back it was in a coffin ! ' '
' ' Dead ? ' ' exclaimed Spargo. ' ' That was sudden ! ' '
"Very sudden," agreed Mr. Quarterpage. "Yes, sir,
he came back in his coffin, did Chamberlayne. On the
very evening on which he'd spoken of being back, there
came a telegram here to say that he'd died very sud-
denly at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. That telegram came
to his. brother-in-law, Corkindale, the saddler — you'll
find him down the street, opposite the Town Hall. It
was sent to Corkindale by a nephew of Chamberlayne 's,
another Chamberlayne, Stephen, who lived in London,
and was understood to be on the Stock Exchange there.
I saw that telegram, Mr. Spargo, and it was a long one.
It said that Chamberlayne had had a sudden seizure,
and though a doctor had been got to him he'd died
shortly afterwards. Now, as Chamberlayne had his
nephew and friends in London, his brother-in-law, Tom
Corkindale, didn't feel that there was any necessity for
him to go up to town, so he just sent off a wire to Stephen
Chamberlayne asking if there was aught he could do.
And next morning came another wire from Stephen say-
ing that no inquest would be necessary, as the doctor had
been present and able to certify the cause of death, and
would Corkindale make all arrangements for the funeral
two days later. You see, Chamberlayne had bought a
vault in our cemetery when he buried his wife, so natur-
ally they wished to bury him in it, with her. ' '
Spargo nodded. He was beginning to imagine all
sorts of things and theories ; he was taking sverything in.
"Well," continued Mr. Quarterpage, "on the second
174 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
day after that, they brought Chamberlayne's body down.
Three of 'em came with it — Stephen Chamberlayne, the
doctor who'd been called in, and a solicitor. Everything
was done according to proper form and usage. As
Chamberlayne had been well known in the town, a good
number of townsfolk met the body at the station and
followed it to the cemetery. Of course, many of us who
had been clients of Chamberlayne's were anxious to
know how he had come to such a sudden end. Accord-
ing to Stephen Chamberlayne's account, our Chamber-
layne had wired to him and to his solicitor to meet him at
the Cosmopolitan to do some business. They were await-
ing him there when he arrived, and they had lunch to-
gether. After that, they got to their business in a pri-
vate room. Towards the end of the afternoon, Chamber-
layne was taken suddenly ill, and though they got a doc-
tor to him at once, he died before evening. The doctor
said he'd a diseased heart. Anyhow, he was able to
certify the cause of his death, so there was no inquest
and they buried him, as I have told you. ' '
The old gentleman paused find, taking a sip at his
sherry, smiled at some remiuiscence which occurred to
"Well," he said, presently going on, "of course, on
that came all the Maitland revelations, and Maitland
vowed and declared that Chamberlayne had not only
had nearly all the money, but that he was absolutely cer-
tain that most of it was in his hands in hard cash. But
Chamberlayne, Mr. Spargo, had left practically noth-
ing. All that could be traced was about three or four
thousand pounds. He'd left everything to his nephew,
THE CHAMBERLAYNE STORY 175
Stephen. There wasn't a trace, a clue to the vast sums
with which Maitland had entrusted him. And then peo-
ple began to talk, and they said what some of them say to
this very day ! ' '
"What's that?" asked Spargo.
Mr. Quarterpage leaned forward and tapped his guest
on the arm.
"That Chamberlayne never did die, and that that
coflSn was weighted with lead!" he answered.
MAITLAND ALIA8 MARBURY
This remarkable declaration awoke such a new con-
ception of matters in Sparge 's mind, aroused such in-
finitely new possibilities in his imagination, that for a
full moment he sat silently staring at his informant, who
chuckled with quiet enjoyment at his visitor's surprise.
"Do you mean to tell me," said Spargo at last, "that
there are people in this town who still believe that the
coffin in your cemetery which is said to contain Cham-
berlayne's body contains — lead?"
"Lots of 'em, my dear sir!" replied Mr. Quarterpage.
"Lots of 'em! Go out in the street and asked the first
six men you meet, and I'll go bail that four out of the
six believe it."
"Then why, in the sacred name of common sense did
no one ever take steps to make certain?" asked Spargo.
"Why didn't they get an order for exhumation?"
"Because it was nobody's particular business to do
so," answered Mr. Quarterpage. "You don't know
country-town life, my dear sir. In towns like Market
Milcaster folks talk and gossip a great deal, but they're
always slow to do anything. It's a ease of who'll start
first — of initiative. And if they see it's going to cost
anything — then they'll have nothing to do with it."
"But — the bank people?" suggested Spargo.
MAITLAND ALIAS MARBURY 177
Mr. Quarterpage shook his head.
"They're ampngst the lot who believe that Chamber-
layne did die," he said. "They're very old-fashioned,
conservative-minded people, the Gutchbys and the Host-
ables, and they accepted the version of the nephew, and
the doctor, and the solicitor. But now I '11 tell you some-
thing about those three. There was a man here in the
town, a gentleman of your own profession, who came to
edit that paper you,'ve got on your knee. He got Inter-
ested in this Chamberlayne case, and he began to make
enquiries with the idea of getting hold of some good —
what do you call it ? "
"I suppose he'd call it 'copy,' " said Spargo.
' ' ' Copy '—that was his term, ' ' agreed Mr. Quarter-
page. ' ' Well, he took the trouble to go to London to ask
some quiet questions of the nephew, Stephen. That was
just twelve months after Chamberlayne had been buried.
But he found that Stephen Chamberlayne had left .Eng-
land — months before. Gone, they said, to one of the
colonies, but they didn't know which. And the solicitor
had also gone. And the doctor — couldn't be traced, no,
sir, not even through the Medical Register. What do
you think of all that, Mr. Spargo?"
"I think," answered Spargo, "that Market Milcaster
folk are considerably slow. I should have had that
death and burial enquired into. The whole thing looks
to me like a conspiracy."
,"Well, sir, it was, as I say, nobody's business," said
Mr. Quarterpage. "The newspaper gentleman tried to
stir up interest in it, but it was no good, and very soon
afterwards he left. And there it is."
178 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"Mr. Quarterpage, " said Spargo, "what's your own
The old gentleman smiled.
"Ah!" he said. "I've often wondered, Mr. Spargo,
if I really have an opinion on that point. I think that
what I probably feel about the whole affair is that there
was a good deal of mystery attaching to it. But we
seem, sir, to have gone a long way from the question of
that old silver ticket which you've got in your purse.
"No!" said Spargo, interrupting his host with an ac-
companying wag of his forefinger. " No ! I think we 're
coming nearer to it. Now you've given me a great deal
of your time, Mr. Quarterpage, and told me a lot, and,
first of all, before I tell you a lot, I 'm going to show you
something. ' '
And Spargo took out of his pocket-book a carefully-
mounted photograph of John Marbury — the original of
the process-picture which he had had made for the
Watchman. He handed it over.
"Do you recognize that photograph as that of any-
body you know?" he asked. "Look at it well and
closely. ' '
Mr. Quarterpage put on a special pair of spectacles
and studied the photograph from several points of view.
"No, sir," he said at last with a shake of the head.
"I don't recognize it at all."
"Can't see in it any resemblance to any man you've
ever known?" asked Spargo.
"No, sir, none!" replied Mr. Quarterpage. "None
MAITLAND ALIAS MARBURY 179
"Very well," said Spargo, laying the photograph, on
the table between them. "Now, then, I want you to
tell me what John Maitland was like when you knew
him. Also, I want you to describe Chamberlayne as he
was when he died, or was supposed to die. You remem-
ber them, of course, quite well 1 ' '
Mr. Quarterpage got up and moved to the door.
"I can do better than that," he said. "I can show
you photographs of both men as they were just before
Maitland 's trial. I have a photograph of a small group
of Market Milcaster notabilities which was taken at a
municipal garden-party; Maitland and Chamberlayne
are both in it. It's been put away in a cabinet in my
drawing-room for many a long year, and I've no doubt
it's as fresh as when it was taken."
He left the room and presently returned with a large
mounted- photograph which he laid on the table before
' ' There you are, sir, ' ' he said. ' ' Quite fresh, you see
— it must be getting on to twenty years since that was
taken out of the drawer that it's been kept in. Now,
that's Maitland. And that's Chamberlayne."
Spargo found himself looking at a group of men who
stood against an ivy-covered wall in the stiff attitudes
in which photographers arrange masses of sitters. He
fixed his attention on the two figures indicated by Mr.
Quarterpage, and saw two medium-heighted, rather
sturdily-built men about whom there was nothing very
" Um ! " he said, musingly. ' ' Both bearded. ' '
"Yes, they both wore beards — full beards," assented
180 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Mr. Qtiarterpage. "And you see, they weren't so much
alike. But Maitland was a much darker man than Cham-
berlayne, and he had brown eyes, while Chamberlayne's
were rather a bright blue."
"The removal of a beard makes a great difference,"
remarked Spargo. He looked at the photograph of
Maitland in the group, comparing it with that of Mar-
bury which he had taken from his pocket. "And twenty
years makes a difference, too," he added musingly.
"To some people twenty years makes a vast difference,
sir," said the old gentleman. "To others it makes none
—I haven't changed much, they tell me, during the past
twenty years. But I 've known men change — age, almost
beyond recognition! — in five years. It depends, sir, on
what they go through."
Spargo suddenly laid aside the photographs, put his
hands in his pockets, and looked steadfastly at Mr.
"Look here!" he said. "I'm going to tell you what
I'm after, Mr. Quarterpage. I'm sure you've heard all
about what's known as the Middle Temple Murder — the
"Yes, I've read of it," replied Mr. Quarterpage.
"Have you read the accounts of it in my paper, the
Watchman f" asked Spargo.
Mr. Quarterpage shook his head.
"I've only read one newspaper, sir, since I was a
young man," he replied. "I take the Times, sir— we
always took it, aye, even in the days when newspapers
"Very good," said Spargo. "But perhaps I can tell
MAITLAND ALIAS MARBURY 181
you a little more than you've read, for I've been work-
ing up that case ever since the body of the man known
as John Marbury was found. Now, if you'll just give
me your attention, I '11 tell you the whole story from that
moment until — now."
And Spargo, briefly, succinctly, re-told the story of
the Marbury ease from the first instant of his own con-
nection with it until the discovery of the silver ticket,
and Mr. Quarterpage listened in rapt attention, nodding
his head from time to time as the younger man made his
"And now, Mr. Quarterpage," concluded Spargo,
"this is the point I've come to. I believe that the man
who came to the Anglo-Orient Hotel as John Marbury
and who was undoubtedly murdered in Middle Temple
Lane that night, was John Maitland — I haven't a doubt
about it after learning what you tell me about the silver
ticket. I 've found out a great deal that 's valuable here,
and I think I 'm getting nearer to a solution of the mys-
tery. That is, of course, to find out who murdered John
Maitland, or Marbury. What you have told me about
the Chamberlayne affair has led me to think this — there
may have been people, or a person, in London, who was
anxious to get Marbury, as we '11 call him, out of the way,
and who somehow encountered him that night — anxious
to silence him, I mean, because of the Chamberlayne af-
fair. And I wondered, as there is so much mystery
about him, and as he won't give any account of himself,
if this man Aylmore was really Chamberlayne. Yes, I
wondered that! But Aylmore 's a tall, finely-built man,
quite six feet in height, and his beard, though it's now
182 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
getting grizzled, has been very dark, and Chamberlayne,
you say, was a medium-sized, fair man, with blue eyes."
"That's so, sir," assented Mr. Quarterpage. "Yes,
a middling-sized man, and fair— very fair. Deary me,
Mr. Spargo ! — ^this is a revelation. And you really think,
sir, that John Maitland and John Marbury are one and
the same person ? ' '
"I'm sure of it, now," said Spargo. "I see it in this
way. Maitland, on his release, went out to Australia,
and there he stopped. At last he comes back, evidently
well-to-do. He's murdered the very day of his arrival.
Aylmore is the only man who knows anything of him —
Aylmore won't tell all he knows; that's flat. But Ayl-
more 's admitted that he knew him at some vague date,
say from twenty-one to twenty-two or three years ago.
Now, where did Aylmore know him? He says in Lon-
don. That's a vague term. He won't say where — ^he
won't say anything definite — he won't even say what
he, Aylmore, himself was in those days. Do you recol-
lect anything of anybody like Aylmore coming here to
see Maitland, Mr. Quarterpage?"
"I don't," answered Mr. Quarterpage. "Maitland
was a very quiet, retiring fellow, sir: he was about the
quietest man in the town. I never remember that he
had visitors; certainly I've no recollection of such a
friend of his as this Aylmore, from your description of
him, would be at that time. ' '
"Did Maitland go up to London much in those days?"
Mr. Quarterpage laughed.
"Well, now, to show you what a good memory I have,"
MAITLAND ALIAS MARBURY 183
he said, " I '11 tell you of something that occurred across
there at the 'Dragon' only a few months before the
Maitland aifair came out. There were some of us in
there one evening, and, for a rare thing, Maitland came
in with Chamberlayne. Chamberlayne happened to re-
mark that he was going up to town next day — he was
always to and fro — and we got talking about London.
And Maitland said in course of conversation, that he be-
lieved he was about the only man of his age in England —
and, of course, he meant of his class and means — who'd
never even seen London! And I don't think he ever
went there between that time and his trial: in fact, I'm
sure he didn't, for if he had, I should have heard of it."
"Well, that's queer," remarked Spargo. "It's very
queer. For I'm certain Maitland and Marbury are one
and the same person. My theory about that old leather
box is that Maitland had that carefully planted before
his arrest ; that he dug it up when he came out of Dart-
moor; that he took it off to Australia with him; that
he brought it back with him; and that, of course, the
Silver ticket and the photograph had been in it all these
years. Now ' '
At that moment the door of the library was opened,
and a parlourmaid looked in at her master.
"There's the boots from the 'Dragon' at the front
door, sir," she said. "He's brought two telegrams
across from there for Mr. Spargo, thinking he might like
to have them at once."
Spargo hurried out to the hall, took the two telegrams
from the boots of the "Dragon," and, tearing open the
envelopes, read the messages hastily. He went back to
"Here's important news," he said as he closed the
library door and resumed his seat. "I'll read these tele-
grams to you, sir, and then we can discuss them in the
light of what we've been talking about this morning.
The first is from our office. I told you we sent over to
Australia for a full report about Marbury at the place
he said he hailed from — Coolumbidgee. That report's
just reached the Watchman, and they've wired it on to
me. It's from the chief of police at Coolumbidgee to
the editor of the Watchman, London : —
"John Marbury came to Coolumbidgee in the win-
ter of 1898-9. He was unaccompanied. He appeared
to be in possession of fairly considerable means and
bought a share in a small sheep-farm from its proprie-
tor, Andrew Robertson, who is still here, and who says
that Marbury never told him anything about himself
except that he had emigrated for health reasons and
was a widower. He mentioned that he had had a son
who was dead, and was now without relations. He
lived a very quiet, steady life on the sheep-farm, never
leaving it for many years. About six months ago,
however, he paid a visit to Melbourne, and on return-
ing told Robertson that he had decided to return to
England in consequence of some news he had received,
and must therefore sell his share in the farm. Rob-
ertson bought it from him for three thousand pounds,
and Marbury shortly afterwards left for Melbourne.
From what we could gather, Robertson thinks Mar-
bury was probably in command of five or six thousand
when he left Coolumbidgee. He told Robertson that
he had met a man in Melbourne who had given him
news that surprised him, but did not say what news.
He had in his possession when he left Robertson ex-
actly the luggage he brought with him when he came
— a stout portmanteau and a small, square leather
box. There are no effects of his left behind at Coolum-
bidgee. ' '
"That's all," said Spargo, laying the first of the tele-
grams on the table. "And it seems to me to signify a
good deal. But now here's more startling news. This
is from Rathbury, the Scotland Yard detective that I
told you of, Mr. Quarterpage — he promised, you know,
to keep me posted in what went on in my absence.
Here's what he says:
"Ftesh evidence tending to incriminate Aylmore
has come to hand. Authorities have decided to arrest
186 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
him on suspicion. You'd better hurry back if you
want material for to-morrow's paper."
Spargo threw that telegram down, too, waited while the
old gentleman glanced at both of them with evident
curiosity, and then jumped up.
"Well, I shall have to go, Mr. Quarterpage, " he said.
' ' I looked the trains out this morning so as to be in readi-
ness. I can catch the 1.20 to Paddington — that'll get
me in before half -past four. I've an hour yet. Now,
there's another man I want to see in Market Milcaster.
That's the photographer — or a photographer. You re-
member I told you of the photograph found with the
silver ticket? Well, I'm calculating that that photo-
graph was taken here, and I want to see the man who
took it — if he 's alive and I can find him. ' '
Mr. Quarterpage rose and put on his hat.
"There's only one photographer in this town, sir,"
he said, "and he's been here for a good many years —
Cooper. I'll take you to him — it's only a few doors
away. ' '
Spargo wasted no time in letting the photographer
know what he wanted. He put a direct question to Mr.
Cooper — an elderly man.
"Do you remember taking a photograph of the child
of John Maitland, the bank manager, some twenty or
twenty-one years ago?" he asked, after Mr. Quarter-
page had introduced him as a gentleman from London
who wanted to ask a few questions.
"Quite well, sir," replied Mr. Cooper. "As well as
if it had been yesterday."
"Do you still happen to have a copy of it?" asked
But Mr. Cooper had already turned to a row of file
albums. He took down one labelled 1891, and began to
search its pages. In a minute or two he laid it on his
table before his callers.
"There you are, sir," he said. "That's the child!"
Spargo gave one glance at the photograph and turned
to Mr. Quarterpage. "Just as I thought," he said.
"That's the same photograph we found in the leather
box with the silver ticket. I'm obliged to you, Mr.
Cooper. Now, there's just one more question I want to
ask. Did you ever supply any further copies of this
photograph to anybody after the Maitland afifair?— that
is, after the family had left the town?"
"Yes," replied the photographer. "I supplied half
a dozen copies to Miss Baylis, the child's aunt, who, as
a matter of fact, brought him here to be photographed.
And I can give you her address, too," he continued, be-
ginning to turn over another old file. ' ' I have it some-
where. ' '
Mr. Quarterpage nudged Spargo.
"That's something I couldn't have done!" he re-
marked. "As I told you, she'd disappeared from
Brighton when enquiries were made after Maitland's
release. ' '
"Here you are," said Mr. Cooper. "I sent six copies
of that photograph to Miss Baylis in April, 1895.
Her address was then 6, Chichester Square, Bays-
Spargo rapidly wrote this address down, thanked the
188 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
photographer for his courtesy, and went out with Mr.
Quarterpage. In the street he turned to the old gentle-
man with a smile.
"Well, I don't think there's much doubt about that!"
he exclaimed. "Maitland and Marbury are the same
man, Mr. Quarterpage. I'm as certain of that as that
I see your Town Hall there."
"And what will you do next, sir?" enquired Mr.
"Thank you — as I do — for all your kindness and as-
sistance, and get off to town by this 1.20," replied
Spargo. "And I shan't fail to let you know how things
"One moment," said the old gentleman, as Spargo
was hurrying away, "do you think this Mr. Aylmore
really murdered Maitland ? ' '
"No!" answered Spargo with emphasis. "I don't!
And I think we've got a good deal to do before we find
out who did."
Spargo purposely let the Marbury ease drop out of
his mind during his journey to town. He ate a hearty
lunch in the train and talked with his neighbours; it
was a relief to let his mind and attention turn to some-
thing else than the theme which had occupied it unceas-
ingly for so many days. But at Reading the newspaper
boys were shouting the news of the arrest of a Member
of Parliament, and Spargo, glancing out of the window,
caught sight of a newspaper placard :
The Mabbdry Mxtkder Case
Arrest op Mk. Aylmore
He snatched a paper from a boy as the train moved out
and, unfolding it, found a mere announcement in the
space reserved for stop-press news :
"Mr. Stephen Aylmore, M.P., was arrested at two
o'clock this afternoon, on his way to the House of
Commons, on a charge of being concerned in the mur-
der of John Marbury in Middle Temple Lane on the
night of June 21st last. It is understood he will be
brought up at Bow Street at ten o'clock tomorrow
Spargo hurried to New Scotland Yard as soon as he
reached Paddington. He met Rathbury coming away
fromJiis room. At sight of him, the detective turned
' ' Well, so there you are ! " he said. ' ' I suppose you 've
heard the news?"
Spargo nodded as he dropped into a chair.
"What led to it?" he asked abruptly. "There must
have been something."
"There was something," he replied. "The thing —
stick, bludgeon, whatever you like to call it, some foreign
article — ^with which Marbury was struck down was found
"Well?" asked Spargo.
"It was proved to be Aylmore 's property," answered
Rathbury. "It was a South American curio that he
had in his rooms in Fountain Court. ' '
"Where was it found?" asked Spargo.
190 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"He was a clumsy fellow who did it, whether he was
Aylmore or whoever he was!" he replied. "Do you
know, it had been dropped into a sewer-trap in Middle
Temple Lane — actually ! Perhaps the murderer thought
it would be washed out into the Thames and float away.
But, of course, it was bound to come to light. A sewer
man found it yesterday evening, and it was quickly
recognized by the woman who cleans up for Aylmore
as having been in his rooms ever since she knew them."
"What does Aylmore say about it?" asked Spargo.
' ' I suppose he 's said something ? ' '
"Says that the bludgeon is certainly his, and that he
brought it from South America with him," announced
Rathbury; "but that he doesn't remember seeing it in
his rooms for some time, and thinks that it was stolen
"Um!" said Spargo, musingly. "But — how do you
know that was the thing that Marbury was struck down
Rathbury smiled grimly.
"There's some of his hair on it — mixed with bbod,"
he answered. "No doubt about that. Well — anything
come of your jaunt westward ? ' '
' ' Yes, ' ' replied Spargo. ' ' Lots ! ' '
"Good?" asked Rathbury.
"Extra good. I've found out who Marbury really
' ' No doubt, to my mind. I 'm certain of it. ' '
Rathbury sat down at his desk, watching Spargo with
"And who was he?" he asked.
"John Maitland, once of Market Mileaster," replied
Spargo. "Ex-bank manager. Also ex-convict."
"Ex-convict. He was sentenced, at Market Mileaster
Quarter Sessions, in autumn, 1891, to ten years' penal
servitude, for embezzling the bank's money, to the tune
of over two hundred thousand pounds. Served his term
at Dartmoor. Went to Australia as soon, or soon after,
he came out. That's who Marbury was — Maitland.
Dead — certain ! ' '
Rathbury still stared at his caller.
" Go on ! " he said. "Tell all about it, Spargo. Let 's
hear every detail. I'll tell you all I know after. But
what I know's nothing to that."
Spargo told him the whole story of his adventures at
Market Mileaster, and the detective listened with rapt
"Yes," he said at the end. "Yes— I don't think
there's much doubt about that. Well, that clears up a
lot, doesn't it?"
"Yes, a whole slate full is wiped off there," he said.
"I haven't so much interest in Marbury, or Maitland
now. My interest is all in Aylmore. ' '
"Yes," he said. "The thing to find out is— who is
Aylmore, or who was he, twenty years ago?"
"Your people haven't found anything out, then?"
"Nothing beyond the irreproachable history of Mr.
192 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Aylmore since he returned to this country, a very rich
man, some ten yeajs since," answered Rathbury, smil-
ing. "They've no previous dates to go on. What are
you going to do next, Spargo?"
' ' Seek out that Miss Baylis, ' ' replied Spargo.
"You think you could get something there?" asked
"Look here!" said Spargo. "I don't believe for a
second Aylmore killed Marbury. I believe I shall get
at the truth by following up what I call the Maitland
trail. This Miss Baylis must know something — if she's
alive. "Well, now I'm going to report at the. office.
Keep in touch with me, Rathbury."
He went on then to the Watchmcm office, and as he
got out of his taxi-cab at its door, another cab came up
and set down Mr. Aylmore 's daughters.
THE BLANK PAST
Jessie Aylmore came forward to meet Spargo with
ready confidence ; the elder girl hung back diffidently.
' ' May we speak to you ? ' ' said Jessie. ' ' We have come
on purpose to speak to you. Evelyn didn't want to
come, but I made her come. ' '
Spargo shook hands silently with Evelyn Aylmore and
motioned them both to follow him. He took them
straight upstairs to his room and bestowed them in his
easiest chairs before he addressed them.
"I've only just got back to town," he said abruptly.
"I was sorry to hear the news about your father. That's
what's brought you here, of course. But — I'm afraid
I can 't do much. ' '
"I told you that we had no right to trouble Mr,.
Spargo, Jessie," said Evelyn Aylmore. "What can
he do to help us ? "
Jessie shook her head impatiently.
"The Watchman's about the most powerful paper in
London, isn't it?" she said. "And isn't Mr. Spargo
writing all these articles about the Marbury case? Mr.
Spargo, you must help us ! "
Spargo sat down at his desk and beg^an turning over
the letters and papers which had accumulated during his
194 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
" To be absolutely frank with you, ' ' he said, presently,
"I don't see how anybody's going to help, so long as
your father keeps up that mystery about the past. ' '
"That," said Evelyn, quietly, "is exactly what Ron-
ald says, Jessie. But we can't make our father speak,
Mr. Spargo. That he is as innocent as we are of this
terrible crime we are certain, and we don't know why
he wouldn't answer the questions put to him at the
inquest. And — we know no more than you know or any-
one knows, and though I have begged my father to speak,
he won 't say a word. We saw his danger : Ronald — ^Mr.
Breton — told us, and we implored him to tell everything
he knew about Mr. Marbury. But so far he has simply
laughed at the idea that he had anything to do with the
murder, or could be arrested for it, and now "
"And now he's locked up," said Spargo in his usual
matter-of-fact fashion. "Well, there are people who
have to be saved from themselves, you know. Perhaps
you'll have to save your father from the consequences
of his own — shall we say obstinacy? Now, look here,
between ourselves, how much do you know about your
The two sisters looked at each other and then at
"Nothing," said the elder.
"Absolutely nothing!" said the younger.
* ' Answer a few plain questions, ' ' said Spargo. " I 'm
not going to print your replies, nor make use of them in
any way: I'm only asking the questions with a desire to
help^you. Have you any relations in England?"
THE BLANK PAST 195
"Nonp that we know of," replied Evelyn.
"Nobody you could go to for information about the
past?" asked Spargo.
Spargo drummed his fingers on his blotting-pad. He
was thinking hard.
"How old is your father?" he asked suddenly.
"He was fifty-nine a few weeks ago," answered Eve-
"And how old are you, and how old is your sister?"
"I am twenty, and Jessie is nearly nineteen."
"Where were you born?"
"Both of us at San Gregorio, which is in the San
Jose province of Argentina, north of Monte Video."
' 'Tour father was in business there ? ' '
"He was in business in the export trade, Mr. Spargo.
There's no secret about that. He exported all sorts of
things to England and to France — skins, hides, wools,
dried salts, fruit. That's how he made his money."
"You don't know how long he'd been there when you
were born ? ' '
"Was he married when he went out there?"
"No, he wasn't. We do know that. He 's told us the
circumstances of his marriage, because they were ro-
mantic. When he sailed from England to Buenos
Ayres, he met on the steamer a young lady who, he said,
was like himself, relationless and nearly friendless. She
was going out to Argentina as a governess. She and
196 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
my father fell in love with each other, and they were
married in Buenos Ayres soon after the steamer ar-
"And your mother is dead?"
"My mother died before we came to England. I was
eight years old, and Jessie six, then. ' '
"And you came to England — how long after that?"
"So that you've been in England ten years. And
you know nothing whatever of your father's past be-
yond what you've told me?"
"Nothing — absolutely nothing."
"Never heard him talk of — ^you see, according to your
account, your father was a man of getting on to forty
when he went out to Argentina. He must have had a
career of some sort in this country. Have you never
heard him speak of his boyhood ? Did he never talk of
old times, or that sort of thing?"
"I never remember hearing my father speak of any
period antecedent to his marriage," replied Evelyn.
"I once asked him a question about his childhood,"
said Jessie. "He answered that his early days had not
been very happy ones, and that he had done his best to
forget them. So I never asked him anything again."
"So that it really comes to this," remarked Spargo.
"You know nothing whatever about your father, his
family, his fortunes, his life, beyond what you yourselves
have observed since you were able to observe? That's
about it, isn't it?"
"I should say that that is exactly it," answered
THE BLANK PAST 197
"Just so," said Spargo. "And therefore, as I told
your sister the other day, the public will say that your
father has some dark secret behind him, and that Mar-
bury had possession of it, and that your father killed
him in order to silence him. That isn't my view. I not
only believe your father to be absolutely innocent, but
I believe that he knows no more than a child unborn of
Marbury's murder, and I'm doing my best to find out
who that murderer was. By the by, since you '11 see all
about it in tomorrow morning's Watchman, I may as
well tell you that I've found out who Marbury really
was. He "
At this moment Spargo 's door was opened and in
walked Bonald Breton. He shook his head at sight of
the two sisters.
"I thought I should find you here," he said. "Jessie
said she was coming to see you, Spargo. I don't know
what good you can do — I don't see what good the most
powerful newspaper in the world can do. My God! —
everything's about as black as ever it can be. Mr.
Aylmore — I've just come away from him; his solicitor,
Stratton, and I have been with him for an hour — is ob-
stinate as ever — he will not tell more than he has told.
Whatever good can you do, Spargo, when he won 't speak
about that knowledge of Marbury which he must have 1 ' '
"Oh, well!" said Spargo. "Perhaps we can give
him some information about Marbury. Mr. Aylmore
has forgotten that it's not such a difficult thing to rake
up the past as he seems to think it is. For example, as
I was just telling these young ladies, I myself have dis-
covered who Marbury really was."
198 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"You have? Without doubt?" he exclaimed.
"Without reasonable doubt. Marbury was an ex-
eonvict. ' '
Spargo watched the effect of this sudden announce-
ment. The two girls showed no sign of astonishment
or of unusual curiosity ; they received the news with as
much unconcern as if Spargo had told them that Mar-
bury was a famous musician. But Ronald Breton
started, and it seemed to Spargo that he saw a sense of
suspicion dawn in his eyes.
"Marbury — an ex-convict!" he exclaimed. "You
"Read your Watchman in the morning," said Spargo.
"You'll find the whole story there — I'm going to write
it tonight when you people have gone. It'll make good
reading. ' '
Evelyn and Jessie Aylmore took Spargo 's hint and
went away, Spargo seeing them to the door with another
assurance of his belief in their father's innocence and
his determination to hunt down the real criminal. Ron-
ald Breton went down with them to the street and saw
them into a cab, but in another minute he was back in
Spargo 's room as Spargo had expected. He shut the
door carefully behind him and turned to Spargo with
an eager face.
' ' I say, Spargo, is that really so ? " he asked. ' ' About
Marbury being an ex-convict?"
"That's so, Breton. I've no more doubt about it than
I have that I see you. Marbury was in reality one John
Maitland, a bank manager, of Market Milcaster, who
THE BLANK PAST 199
got ten years' penal servitude in 1891 for embezzle-
ment. ' '
"In 1891? Why— that's just about the time that
Aylmore says he knew him ! ' '
"Exactly. And — ^it just strikes me," said Spargo,
sitting down at his desk and making a hurried note, "it
just strikes me — didn't Aylmore say he knew Marbury
in London ? ' '
"Certainly," replied Breton. "In London."
' ' Um ! ' ' mused Spargo. ' ' That's queer, because Mait-
land had never been in London up to the time of his go-
ing to Dartmoor, whatever he may have done when he
came out of Dartmoor, £ind, of course, Aylmore had gone
to South America long before that. Look here, Breton, ' '
he continued, aloud, "have you access to Aylmore 1 Will
you, can you, see him before he's brought up at Bow
"Yes," answered Breton. "I can see him with his
solicitor. ' '
"Then listen," said Spargo. "Tomorrow morning
you'll find the whole story of how I proved Marbury 's
identity with Maitland in the Watchman. Read it as
early as you can ; get an interview with Aylmore as early
as you can; make him read it, every word, before
he's brought up. Beg him if he values his own safety
and his daughters' peace of mind to throw away all that
foolish reserve, and to tell all he knows about Maitland
twenty years ago. He should have done that at first.
Why, I was asking his daughters some questions before
you came in — they know absolutely nothing of their
father's history previous to the time when they began to
200 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
understand things! Don't you see that Aylmore's ca-
reer, previous to his return to England, is a blank past?"
"I know— I know!" said Breton. "Yes— although
I've gone there a great deal, I never heard Aylmore
speak of anything earlier than his Argentine experiences.
And yet, he must have been getting on when he went
"Thirty-seven or eight, at least," remarked Sparge.
"Well, Aylmore's more or less of a public man, and no
public man can keep his life hidden nowadays. By the
by, how did you get to know the Aylmores ? ' '
"My guardian, Mr. Elphick, and I met them in
Switzerland," answered Breton. "We kept up the ac-
quaintance after our return."
"Mr. Elphick still interesting himself in the Mar-
bury case 1 ' ' asked Spargo.
"Very much so. And so is old Cardlestone, at the
foot of whose stairs the thing came off. I dined with
them last night and they talked of little else," said
"And their theory "
"Oh, still the murder for the sake of robbery!" re-
plied Breton. "Old Cardlestone is furious that such a
thing could have happened at his very door. He says
that there ought to be a thorough enquiry into every
tenant of the Temple."
"Longish business that," observed Spargo. "Well,
run away now, Breton — I must write. ' '
"Shall you be at Bow Street tomorrow morning i"
asked Breton as he moved to the door. "It's to be at
THE BLANK PAST 201
"No, I shan't!" replied Spargo. "It'll only be a
remand, and I know already just as much as I should
hear there. I've got something much more important
to do. But you'll remember what I asked of you — get
Aylmore to read my story in the Watchman, and beg him
to speak out and tell all he knows — all ! ' '
And when Breton had gone, Spargo again murmured
those last words : "AU he knows — all!"
Next day, a little before noon, Sparge found himself
in one of those pretentious yet dismal Bayswater squares,
which are almost entirely given up to the trade, calling,
or occupation of the lodging and boarding-house keeper.
They are very pretentious, those squares, with their
many-storied houses, their stuccoed frontages, and their
pilastered and balconied doorways; innocent country
folk, coming into them from the neighbouring station of
Paddington, take them to be the residences of the dukes
and earls who, of course, live nowhere else but in Lon-
don. They are further encouraged in this belief by the
fact that young male persons in evening dress are often
seen at the doorways in more or less elegant attitudes.
These, of course, are taken by the country folk to be
young lords enjoying the air of Bayswater, but others,
more knowing, are aware that they are Swiss or German
waiters whose linen might be cleaner.
Spargo gauged the character of the house at which he
called as soon as the door was opened to him. There was
the usual smell of eggs and bacon, of fish and chops; the
usual mixed and ancient collection of overcoats, wraps,
and sticks in the hall ; the usual sort of parlourmaid to
answer the bell. And presently, in answer to his en-
quiries, there was the usual type of landlady confront-
MISS BAYLIS g03
ing him, a more than middle-aged person who desired to
look younger, and made attempts in the way of false
hair, teeth, and a little rouge, and who wore that some-
what air and smile which in its wearer — under these
circumstances— always means that she is considering
whether you will be able to cheat her or whether she
will be able to see you.
"You wish to see Miss Baylis?" said this person, ex-
amining Spargo closely. "Miss Baylis does not often
"I hope," said Spargo politely, "that Miss Baylis is
not an invalid?"
"No, she's not an invalid," replied the landlady;
"but she's not as young as she was, and she's an objec-
tion to strangers. Is it anything I can tell her?"
"No," said Spargo. "But you can, if you please,
take her a message from me. Will you kindly give her
my card, and tell her that I wish to ask her a question
about John Maitland of Market Milcaster, and that I
should be much obliged if she would give me a few min-
"Perhaps you will sit down," said the landlady. She
led Spargo into a room which opened out upon a garden ;
in it two or three old ladies, evidently inmates, were
sitting. The landlady left Spargo to sit with them and
to amuse himself by watching them knit or sew or read
the papers, and he wondered if they always did these
things every day, and if they would go on doing them
until a day would come when they would do them no
more, and he was beginning to feel very dreary when the
door opened and a woman entered whom Spargo, after
204 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
one sharp glance at her, decided to be a person who was
undoubtedly out of the common. And as she slowly
walked across the room towards him he let his first glance
lengthen into a look of steady inspection.
The woman whom Spargo thus narrowly inspected
was of very remarkable appearance. She was almost
masculine; she stood nearly six feet in height; she was
of a masculine gait and tread, and spare, muscular, and
athletic. What at once struck Spargo about her face
was the strange contrast between her dark eyes and her
white hair ; the hair, worn in abundant coils round a well-
shaped head, was of the most snowy whiteness ; the eyes
of a real coal-blackness, as were also the eyebrows above
them. The features were well-cut and of a striking
firmness ; the jaw square and determined. And Spargo 's
first thought on taking all this in was that Miss Baylis
seemed to have been fitted by Nature to be a prison ward-
ress, or the matron of a hospital, or the governess of
an unruly girl, and he began to wonder if he would ever
manage to extract anything out of those firmly-locked
Miss Baylis, on her part, looked Spargo over as if she
was half-minded to order him to instant execution.
And Spargo was so impressed by her that he made a
profound bow and found a difficulty in finding his
"Mr. Spargo?" she said in a deep voice which seemed
peculiarly suited to her. "Of, I see, the Watchmmf
You wish to speak to me?"
Spargo again bowed in silence. She signed him to the
window near which they were standing.
MISS BAYLIS 205
"Open the casement, if you please," she commanded
him. "We will walk in the garden. This is not pri-
Spargo obediently obeyed her orders; she swept
through the opened window and he followed her. It
was not until they had reached the bottom of the garden
that she spoke again.
"I understand that you desire to ask me some question
about John Maitland, of Market Milcaster?" she said.
"Before you put it, I must ask you a question. Do you
wish any reply I may give you for publication?"
"Not without your permission," replied Spargo. "I
should not think of publishing anything you may tell
me except with your express permission. ' '
She looked at him gloomily, seemed to gather an im-
pression of his good faith, and nodded her head.
"In that case," she said, "what do you want to
"I have lately had reason for making certain en-
quiries about John Maitland," answered Spargo. "I
suppose you read the newspapers and possibly the
Watchman, Miss Bay lis ? ' '
But Miss Baylis shook her head.
"I read no newspapers," she said. "I have no in-
terest in the affairs of the world. I have work which
occupies all my time : I give my whole devotion to it. ' '
"Then you have not recently heard of what is known
as the Marbury case — a case of a man who was found
murdered?" asked Spargo.
"I have not," she answered. "I am not likely to hear
206 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Spargo suddenly realized that the power of the Press
is not quite as great nor as far-reaching as very young
journalists hold it to be, and that there actually are, even
in London, people who can live quite cheerfully without
a newspaper. He concealed his astonishment and went
"Well," he said, "I believe that the murdered man,
known to the police as John Marbury, was, in reality,
your brother-in-law, John Maitland. In fact. Miss
Baylis, I'm absolutely certain of it!"
He made this declaration with some emphasis, and
looked at his stern companion to see how she was im-
pressed. But Miss Baylis showed no sign of being im-
"I can quite believe that, Mr. Spargo," she said
coldly. "It is no surprise to me that John Maitland
should come to such an end. He was a thoroughly bad
and unprincipled man, who brought the most terrible
disgrace on those who were, unfortunately, connected
with him. He was likely to die a bad man's death."
"I may ask you a few questions about him?" sug-
gested Spargo in his most insinuating manner.
"You may, so long as you do not drag my name into
the papers," she replied. "But pray, how do you know
that I have the sad shame of being John Maitland 's
sister-in-law ? ' '
"I found that out at Market Mileaster," said Spargo.
"The photographer told me — Cooper."
"Ah!" she exclaimed.
"The questions I want to ask are very simple," said
Spargo. "But your answers may materially help me.
MISS BAYLIS 207
You remember Maitland going to prison, of course?"
Miss Baylis laughed — a laugh of scorn.
"Could I ever forget it?" she exclaimed.
"Did you ever visit him in prison?" asked Spargo.
"Visit him in prison!" she said indignantly.
"Visits in prison are to be paid to those who deserve
them, who are repentant; not to scoundrels who are
hardened in their sin ! "
"All right. Did you ever see him after he left
prison ? ' '
"I saw him, for he forced himself .upon me — I could
not help myself. He was in my presence before I was
aware that he had even been released."
"What did he come for?" asked Spargo.
"To ask for his son — who had been in my charge," she
"That's a thing I want to know about," said Spargo.
"Do you know what a certain lot of people in Market
Milcaster say to this day. Miss Baylis? — they say that
you were in at the game with Maitland; that you had
a lot of the money placed in your charge; that when
Maitland went to prison, you took the child away, first
to Brighton, then abroad — disappeared with him — and
that you made a home ready for Maitland when he came
out. That's what's said by some people in Market Mil-
caster. ' '
Miss Baylis 's stern lips curled.
"People in Market Milcaster!" she exclaimed. "All
the people I ever knew in Market Milcaster had about
as many brains between them as that cat on the wall
there. As for making a home for John Maitland, I
208 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
would have seen him die in the gutter, of absolute want,
before I would have given him a crust of dry bread!"
"You appear to have a terrible dislike of this man,"
observed Spargo, astonished at her vehemence.
"I had — and I have," she answered. "He tricked
my sister into a marriage with him when he knew that
she would rather have married an honest man who wor-
shipped her; he treated her with quiet, infernal cruelty;
he robbed her and me of the small fortunes our father
"Ah!" said Spargo. "Well, so you say Maitland
came to you, when he came out of prison, to ask for his
boy. Did he take the boy?"
"No — the boy was dead."
"Dead, eh? Then I suppose Maitland did not stop
long with you?"
Miss Baylis laughed her scornful laugh.
"I showed him the door!" she said.
"Well, did he tell you that he was going to Aus-
tralia?" enquired Spargo.
"I should not have listened to anything that he told
me, Mr. Spargo," she answered.
"Then, in short," said Spargo, "you never heard of
"T never heard of him again," she declared passion-
ately, "and I only hope that what you tell me is true,
and that Marbury really was Maitland !"
Spargo, having exhausted the list of questions which
he had thought out on his way to Bayswater, was about
to take his leave of Miss Baylis, when a new idea sud-
denly occurred to him, and he turned back to that
"I've just thought of something else," he said. "I
told you that I'm certain Marbury was Maitland, and
that he came to a sad end — murdered."
"And I've told you," she replied scornfully, "that
in my opinion no end could be too bad for him."
"Just so — I understand you," said Spargo. "But
I didn't tell you that he was not only murdered but
robbed — robbed of probably a good deal. There's good
reason to believe that he had securities, bank notes, loose
diamonds, and other things on him to the value of a large
amount. He'd several thousand pounds when he left
Coolumbidgee, in New South Wales, where he'd lived
quietly for some years. ' '
Miss Baylis smiled sourly.
"What's all this to me?" she asked.
"Possibly nothing. But you see, that money, those
securities, may be recovered. And as the boy you speak
210 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
of is dead, there surely must be somebody who's entitled
to the lot. It's worth having, Miss Baylis, and there's
strong belief on the part of the police that it will turn
This was a bit of ingenious bluff on the part of
Spargo ; he watched its effect with keen eyes. But Miss
Baylis was adamant, and she looked as scornful as ever.
"I say again what's all that to me?" she exclaimed.
"Well, but hadn't the dead boy any relatives on his
father 's side ? ' ' asked Spargo. ' ' I know you 're his aunt
on the mother's side, and as you're indifferent perhaps,
I can find some on the other side. It's very easy to find
all these things out, you know. ' '
Miss Baylis, who had begun to stalk back to the house
in gloomy and majestic fashion, and had let Spargo see
plainly that this part of the interview was distasteful to
her, suddenly paused in her stride and glared at the
"Easy to find all these things out?" she repeated.
Spargo caught, or fancied he caught, a note of anxiety
in her tone. He was quick to turn his fancy to practical
"Oh, easy enough!" he said. "I could find out all
about Maitland's family through that boy. Quite, quite
Miss Baylis had stopped now, and stood glaring at
him. "How?" she demanded.
"I'll tell you," said Spargo with cheerful alacrity.
"It is, of course, the easiest thing in the world to trace
all about his short life. I suppose I can find the register
• of his birth at Market Milcaster, and you, of course, will
MOTHER GUTCH gll
tell me where he died. By the by, when did he die, Miss
But Miss Baylis was going on again to the house.
"I shall tell you nothing more,'' she said angrily.
"I've told you too much already, and I believe all you're
here for is to get some news for your paper. But I will,
at any rate tell you this — when Maitland went to prison
his child would have been defenceless but for me; he'd
have had to go to the workhouse but for me ; he hadn 't a
single relation in the world but me, on either father's or
mother's side. And even at my age, old woman as I
am, I'd rather beg my bread in the street, I'd rather
starve and die, than touch a penny piece that had come
from John Maitland ! That 's all. ' '
Then without further word, without offering to show
Spargo the way out, she marched in at the open win-
dow and disappeared. And Spargo, knowing no other
way, was about to follow her when he heard a sudden
rustling sound in the shadow by which they had stood,
and the next moment a queer, cracked, horrible voice,
suggesting all sorts of things, said distinctly and yet in a
Spargo turned and stared at the privet hedge behind
him. It was thick and bushy, and in its full summer
green, but it seemed to him that he saw a nondescript
shape behind. ' ' Who 's there ? " he demanded. ' ' Some-
There was a curious cackle of laughter from behind
the hedge; then the cracked, husky voice spoke again.
"Young man, don't you move or look as if you were
212 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
talking to anybody. Do you know where the 'King of
Madagascar ' public-house is in this quarter of the town,
"No!" answered Spargo. "Certainly not!"
"Well, anybody '11 teU you when you get outside, young
man," continued the queer voice of the unseen person.
"Go there, and wait at the corner by the 'King of
Madagascar,' and I'll come there to you at the end of
half an hour. Then I '11 tell you something, young man
— I'll tell you something. Now run away, young man,
run away to the 'King of Madagascar' — I'm coming!"
The voice ended in low, horrible cachinnation which
made Spargo fed queer. But he was young enough to
be in love with adventure, and he immediately turned on
his heel without so much as a glance at the privet hedge,
and went across the garden and through the house, and
let himself out at the door. And at the next comer of
the square he met a policeman and asked him if he knew
where the "King of Madagascar" was.
"First to the right, second to the left," answered the
policemaa tersely. "You can't miss it anywhere round
there — ^it's a landmark."
And Spargo found the landmark — a great, square-
built tavern — easily, and he waited at a comer of it won-
dering what he was going to see, and intensely curious
about the owner of the queer voice, with all its sugges-
tions of he knew not what. And suddenly there came
up to him an old woman and leered at him in a fashion
that made him suddenly realize how dreadful old age
Spargo had never seen such an old woman as this in
MOTHER GUTCH 213
his life. She was dressed respectably, better than re-
spectably. Her gown was good; her bonnet was smart;
her smaller fittings were good. But her face was evil;
it showed unmistakable signs of a long devotion to the
bottle; the old eyes leered and ogled, the old lips were
wicked. Spargo felt a sense of disgust almost amount-
ing to nausea, but he was going to hear what the old
harridan had to say and he tried not to look what he
' ' Well ? " he said, almost roughly. ' ' Well ? ' '
"Well, young man, there you are," said his new ac-
qujiintance. "Let us go inside, young man; there's a
quiet little place where a lady can sit and take her drop
of gin — I'll show you. And if you're good to me, I'll
tell you something about that cat that you were talking
to just now. But you'll give me a little matter to put
in my pocket, young man? Old ladies like me have a
right to buy little comforts, you know, little comforts."
Spargo followed this extraordinary person into a small
parlour within; the attendant who came in response to
a ring showed no astonishment at her presence ; he also
seemed to know exactly what she required, which was
a certain brand of gin, sweetened, and warm. • And
Spargo watched her curiously as with shaking hand she
pushed up the veil which hid little of her wicked old
face, and lifted the glass to her mouth with a zest which
was not thirst but pure greed of liquor. Almost in-
stantly he saw a new light steal into her eyes, and she
laughed in a voice that grew clearer with every sound
"Ah, young man!" she said with a confidential nudge
214 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
of the elbow that made Sparge long to get up and fly.
"I wanted that! It's done me good. When I've fin-
ished that, you'll pay for another for me — and perhaps
another? They'll do me still more good. And you'll
give me a little matter of money, won't you, young
"Not till I know what I'm giving it for," replied
"You'll be giving it because I'm going to tell you
that if it's made worth my while I can tell you, or some-
body that sent you, more about Jane Baylis than anybody
in the world. I 'm not going to tell you that now, young
man — I'm sure you don't carry in your pocket what
I shall want for my secret, not you, by the look of you !
I'm only going to show you that I have the secret.
"Who are you?" asked Spargo.
The woman leered and chuckled. "What are you go-
ing to give me, young man?" she asked.
Spargo put his fingers in his pocket and pulled out
"Look here," he said, showing his companion the
coins, "if you can tell me anything of importance you
shall have these. But no trifling, now. And no wast-
ing of time. If you have anything to tell, out with it!"
The woman stretched out a trembling, claw-like hand.
"But let me hold one of those, young man!" she im-
plored. "Let me hold one of the beautiful bits of gold.
I shall tell you all the better if I hold one of them. Let
me — there's a good young gentleman."
MOTHER GUTCH 215
Spargo gave her one of the coins, and resigned him-
self to his fate, whatever it might be.
"You won't get the other unless you tell something,"
he said. "Who are you, anyway?"
The woman, who had begun mumbling and chuckling
over the half-sovereign, grinned horribly.
"At the boarding-house yonder, young man, they
call me Mother Gutch," she answered; "but my proper
name is Mrs. Sabina Gutch, and once upon a time I was
a good-looking young woman. And when my husband
died I went to Jane Baylis as housekeeper, and when she
retired from that and came to live in that boarding-
house where we live now, she was forced to bring me
with her and to keep me. Why had she to do that, young
' ' Heaven knows ! ' ' answered Spargo.
"Because I've got a hold on her, young man — I've
got a secret of hers," continued Mother Gutch. "She'd
be scared to death if she knew I'd been behind that
hedge and had heard what she said to you, and she'd
be more than scared if she knew that you and I were
here, talking. But she's grown hard and near with
me, and she won 't give me a penny to get a drop of any-
thing with, and an old woman like me has a right to
her little comforts, and if you'll buy the secret, young
man, I '11 split on her, there and then, when you pay the
"Before I talk about buying any secret," said Spargo,
"you'll have to prove to me that you've a secret to sell
that's worth my buying."
216 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"And I will prove it!" said Mother Gutch with sud-
den fierceness. "Touch the bell, and let me have an-
other glass, and then I'll tell you. Now," she went on,
more quietly — Spargo noticed that the more she drank,
the more rational she became, and chat her nerves seemed
to gain strength and her whole appearance to be im-
proved — "now, you came to her to find out about her
brother-in-law, Maitland, that went to prison, didn't
"Well?" demanded Spargo.
"And about that boy of his?" she continued.
"You heard all that was said," answered Spargo.
"I'm waiting to hear what you have to say."
But Mother Gutch was resolute in having her own
way. She continued her questions:
"And she told you that Maitland came and asked for
the boy, and that she told him the boy was dead, didn't
she?" she went on.
"Well?" said Spargo despairingly. "She did.
Mother Gutch took an appreciative pull at her glass
and smiled knowingly. "What then?" she chuckled.
"All lies, young man, the boy isn't dead — anv more than
I am. And my secret is "
"Well?" demanded Spargo impatiently. "What is
"This!" answered Mother Gutch, digging her com-
panion in the ribs, "I know what she did with him!"
Spargo turned on his disreputable and dissolute com-
panion with all his journalistic energies and instincts
roused. He had not been sure, since entering the "King
of Madagascar," that he was going to hear anything
material to the Middle Temple Murder; he had more
than once feared that this old gin-drinking harridan was
deceiving him, for the purpose of extracting drink and
money from him. But now, at the mere prospect of
getting important information from her, he forgot all
about Mother Guteh's unfortunate propensities, evil
eyes, and sodden face ; he only saw in her somebody who
could tell him something. He turned on her eagerly.
"You say that John Maitland's son didn't die!" he
"The boy did not die," replied Mother Gutch.
"And that you know where he is?" asked Spargo.
Mother Gutch shook her head.
"I didn't say that I know where he is, young man,"
she replied. "I said I knew what she did with him."
"What, then?" demanded Spargo. '
Mother Gutch drew herself up in a vast assumption
of dignity, and favoured Spargo with a look.
' ' That 's the secret, young man, ' ' she said. " I 'm will-
218 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
ing to sell that secret, but not for two half-sovereigns
and two or three drops of cold gin. If Maitland left
all that money you told Jane Baylis of, when I was
listening to you from behind the hedge, my secret's worth
something. ' '
Spargo suddenly remembered his bit of bluff to Miss
Baylis. Here was an unexpected result of it.
"Nobody but me can help you to trace Maitland 's
boy," continued Mother Gutch, "and I shall expect to be
paid accordingly. That's plain language, young man."
Spargo considered the situation in silence for a minute
or two. Could this wretched, bibulous old woman really
be in possession of a secret which would lead to the
solving of the mystery of the Middle Temple Murder?
Well, it would be a fine thing for the Watchman if the
clearing up of everything came through one of its men.
And the Watchman was noted for being generous even
to extravagance in laying out money on all sorts of ob-
jects: it had spent money like water on much less serious
matters than this.
"How much do you want for your secret?" he sud-
denly asked, turning to his companion.
Mother Gutch began to smooth out a pleat in her
gown. It was really wonderful to Spargo to find how
very sober and normal this old harridan had become;
he did not understand that her nerves had been all
a-quiver and on edge when he first met her, and that a
resort to her favourite form of alcohol in liberal quantity
had calmed and quickened them; secretly he was re-
garding her with astonishment as the most extraordinary
old person he had ever met, and he was almost afraid
of her as he waited for her decision. At last Mother
"Well, young man," she said, "having considered
matters, and having a right to look well to myself, I think
that what I should prefer to have would be one of those
annuities. A nice, comfortable annuity, paid weekly
— none of your monthlies or quarterlies, but regular
and punctual, every Saturday morning. Or Monday
morning, as was convenient to the parties concerned —
but punctual and regular. I know a good many ladies
in my sphere of life as enjoys annuities, and it's a great
comfort to have 'em paid weekly."
It occurred to Spargo that Mrs. Gutch would probably
get rid of her weekly dole on the day it was paid, whether
that day happened to be Monday or Saturday, but that,
after all, was no concern of his, so he came back to first
"Even now you haven't said how much," he re-
"Three pound a week," replied Mother Gutch.
"And cheap, too!"
Spargo thought hard for two minutes. The secret
might — might! — ^lead to something big. This wretched
old woman would probably drink herself to death within
a year or two. Anyhow, a few hundreds of pounds was
nothing to the Watchman. He glanced at his watch.
At that hour — for the next hour— the great man of the
WaUhmmi would be at the ofiSce. He jumped to his
feet, suddenly resolved and alert.
"Here, I'll take you to see my principals," he said.
"We'll run along in a taxi-cab."
THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"With all the pleasure in the world, young man," re-
plied Mother Gutch; "when you've given me that other
half-sovereign. As for principals, I'd far rather talk
business with masters than with men — though I mean no
disrespect to you. ' '
Spargo, feeling that he was in for it, handed over the
second half-sovereign, and busied himself in ordering a
taxi-cab. But when that came round he had to wait
while Mrs. Gutch consumed a third glass of gin and pur-
chased a flask of the same beverage to put in her pocket.
At last he got her off, and in due course to the Watchman
office, where the hall-porter and the messenger boys
stared at her in amazement, well used as they were to
seeing strange. folk, and he got her to his own room, and
locked her in, and then he sought the presence of the
What Spargo said to his editor and to the great man
who controlled the fortunes and workings of the Watch-
man he never knew. It was probably fortunate for him
that they were both thoroughly conversant with the facts
of the Middle Temple Murder, and saw that there might
be an advantage in securing the revelations of which
Spargo had got the conditional promise. At any rate,
they accompanied Spargo to his room, intent on seeing,
hearing and bargaining with the lady he had locked up
Spargo 's room smelt heavily of unsweetened gin, but
Mother Gutch was soberer than ever. She insisted upon
being introduced to proprietor and editor in due and
proper form, and in discussing terms with them before
going into any further particulars. The editor was all
for temporizing with her until something could be done
to find out what likelihood of truth there was in her, but
the proprietor, after sizing her up in his own shrewd
fashion, took his two companions out of the room.
"We'll hear what the old woman has to say on her own
terms," he said. "She may have something to tell that
is really of the greatest importance in this case : she cer-
tainly has something to tell. And, as Spargo says, she '11
probably drink herself to death in about as short a time
as possible. Come back — ^let 's hear her story. ' ' So they
returned to the gin-scented atmosphere, and a formal
document was drawn out by which the proprietor of the
Watchman bound himself to pay Mrs. Guteh the sum of
three pounds a week for life (Mrs. Gutch insisting on the
insertion of the words ' ' every Saturday morning, punc-
tual and regular") and then Mrs. Gutch was invited to
tell her tale. And Mrs. Gutch settled herself to do so,
and Spargo prepared to take it down, word for word.
"Which the story, as that young man called it, is not
so long as a monkey's tail nor so short as a Manx cat's,
gentlemen," said Mrs. Guteh; "bi^it full of meat as an
egg. Now, you see, when that Maitland affair at Market
Milcaster came off, I was housekeeper to Miss Jane Bay-
lis at Brighton. She kept a boarding-house there, ir
Kemp Town, and close to the sea-front, and a very good
thing she made out of it, and had saved a nice bit, and
having, like her sister, Mrs. Maitland, had a little fortune
left her by her father, as was at one time a publican here
in London, she had a good lump of money. And all
that money was in this here Maitland 's hands, every
penny. I very well remember the day when the news
222 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
came about that affair of Maitland robbing the bank.
Hiss Baylis, she was like a mad thing when she saw it in
the paper, and before she'd seen it an hour she was off
to Market Milcaster. I went up to the station with her,
and she told me then before she got in the train that
Maitland had all her fortune and her savings, and her
sister's, his wife's, too, and that she feared all would be
"Mrs. Maitland was then dead," observed Spargo
without looking up from his writing-block.
"She was, young man, and a good thing, too," con-
tinued Mrs. Gutch. ' ' Well, away went Miss Baylis, and
no more did I hear or see for nearly a week, and then
back she comes, and brings a little boy with her^— which
was Maitland 's. And she told me that night that she'd
lost every penny she had in the world, and that her
sister's money, what ought to have been the child's, was
gone, too, and she said her say about Maitland. How-
ever, she saw well to that child ; nobody could have seen
better. And very soon after, when Maitland was sent
to prison for ten years, her and me talked about things.
'What's the use,' says I to her, 'of your letting yourself
get so fond of that child, and looking after it as you
do, and educating it, and so on?' I says. 'Why not?'
says she. ' 'Tisn't yours,' I says, 'you haven't no right
to it,' I says. 'As soon as ever its father comes out/
says I, 'he'll come and claim it, and you can't do nothing
to stop him.' Well, gentlemen, if you'll believe me,
never did I see a woman look as she did when I says all
that. And she up and swore that Maitland should never
see or touch the child again — not under no circumstances
whatever. ' '
Mrs. Gutch paused to take a little refreshment from
her pocket-flask, with an apologetic remark as to the state
of her heart. She resumed, presently, apparently re-
"Well, gentlemen, that notion, about Maitland's tak-
ing the child away from her seemed to get on her mind,
and she used to talk to me at times about it, always say-
ing the same thing — ^that Maitland should never have
him. And one day she told me she was going to London
to see.lawyers about it, and she went, and she came back,
seeming more satisfied, and a day or two afterwards,
there came a gentleman who looked like a lawyer, and he
stopped a day or two, and he came again and again, un-
til one day she came to me, and she says, 'You don't know
who that gentleman is that's come so much lately?' she
says. 'Not I,' I says, 'unless he's after you.' 'After
me!' she says, tossing her head: 'That's the gentleman
that ought to have married my poor sister if that scoun-
drel Maitland hadn't tricked her into throwing him
over!' 'You don't say so!' I says. 'Then by rights he
ought to have been the child's pa!' 'He's going to be a
father to the boy,' she says. 'He's going to take him
and educate him in the highest fashion, and make a gen-
tleman of him,' she says, 'for his mother's sake.'
'Mercy on us!' says I. 'What '11 Maitland say when he
comes for him?' 'Maitland '11 never come for him,'
she says, 'for I'm going to leave here, and the boy '11 be
gone before then. This is all being done,' she says, 'so
224 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
that the child '11 never know his father's shame — he'll
never know who his father was. ' And true enough, the
boy was taken away, but Maitland came before she'd
gone, and she told him the child was dead, and I never
see a man so cut up. However, it wasn't no concern of
mine. And so there 's so much of the secret, gentlemen,
and I would like to know if I ain't giving good value."
"Very good," said the proprietor. "Go on." But
"Did you ever hear the name of the gentleman who
took the boy away?" he asked.
"Yes, I did," repUed Mrs. Gutch. "Of course I did.
Which it was Elphick."
Spargo dropped his pen on the desk before him with
a sharp clatter that made Mrs. Gutch jump. A steady
devotion to the bottle had made her nerves to be none
of the strongest, and she looked at the startler of them
with angry malevolence.
"Don't do that again, young man!" she exclaimed
sharply. "I can't a-bear to be jumped out of my skin,
and it's bad manners. I observed that the gentle-
man's name was Elphick."
Spargo contrived to get in a glance at his proprietor
and his editor — a glance which came near to being a
"Just so — Elphick," he said. "A law gentleman I
think you said, Mrs. Gutch?"
"I said," answered Mrs. Gutch, "as how he looked like
a lawyer gentleman. And since you're so particular,
young man, though I wasn't addressing you but your
principals, he was a lawyer gentleman. One of the sort
that wears wigs and gowns — ain't I seen his picture in
Jane Baylis's room at the boarding-house where you saw
her this morning?"
"Elderly man?" asked Spargo.
"Elderly he will be now," replied the informant;
"but when he took the boy away he was a middle-aged
226 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
man. About Ms age," she added, pointing to the editor
in a fashion which made that worthy man wince and the
proprietor desire to laugh unconsumedly ; "and not so
very unlike him neither, being one as had no hair on his
"Ah!" said Spargo. "And where did this Mr. El-
phick take the boy, Mrs. Gutch?"
But Mrs. Gutch shook her head.
"Ain't no idea," she said. "He took him. Then, as
I told you, Maitland came, and Jane Baylis told him
that the boy was dead. And after that she never even
told me anything about the boy. She kept a tight
tongue. Once or twice I asked her, and she says, 'Never
you mind,' she says; 'he's all right for life, if he lives to
be as old as Methusalem. ' And she never said more, and
I never said more. But, ' ' continued Mrs. Gutch, whose
pocket-flask was empty, and who began to wipe tears
away, "she's treated me hard has Jane Baylis, never
allowing me a little comfort such as a lady of my age
should have, and when I hears the two of you a-talking
this morning the other side of that privet hedge, thinks
I, 'Now's the time to have my knife into you, my fine
madam!' And I hope I done it."
Spargo looked at the editor and the proprietor, nod-
ding his head slightly. He meant them to understand
that he had got all he wanted from Mother Gutch.
"What are you going to do, Mrs. Gutch, when you
leave here?" he asked. "You shall be driven straight
back to Bayswater, if you like."
"Which I shall be obliged for, young man," said Mrs.
Gutch, "and likewise for the first week of the annuity.
and will call every Saturday for the same at eleven
punctual, or can be posted to me on a Friday, whichever
is agreeable to you gentlemen. And having my first
week in my purse, and being driven to Bayswater, I shall
take my boxes and go to a friend of mine where I shall
be hearty welcome, shaking the dust of my feet off against
Jane Baylis and where I've been living with her."
"Yes, but, Mrs. Gutch," said Spargo, with some
anxiety, "if you go back there tonight, you'll be very
careful not to tell Miss Baylis that you 've been here and
told us all this?"
Mrs. Guteh rose, dignified and composed.
"Young man," she said, "you mean well, *but you
ain't used to dealing with ladies. I can keep my tongue
as still as anybody when I like. I wouldn't tell Jane
Baylis my affairs — my new affairs, gentlemen, thanks
to you — not for two annuities, paid twice a week ! ' '
"Take Mrs. Gutch downstairs, Spargo, and see her
all right, and then come to my room," said the editor.
' ' And don 't you forget, Mrs. Gutch — keep a quiet tongue
in your head — no more talk — or there'll be no annuities
on Saturday mornings. ' '
So Spargo took Mother Guteh to the cashier's depart-
ment and paid her her first week's money, and he got
her a taxi-cab, and paid for it, and saw her depart, and
then he went to the editor's room, strangely thoughtful.
The editor and the proprietor were talking, but they
stopped when Spargo entered and looked at him eagerly.
"I think we've done it," said Spargo quietly.
"What, precisely, have we found out?" asked the
228 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"A great deal more than I'd anticipated," answered
Spargo, "and I don't inow what fields it doesn't open
out. If you look back, you'll remember that the only
thing found on Marbury's body was a scrap of grey
paper on which was a name and address — Ronald Breton,
King's Bench Walk."
"Breton is a young barrister. Also he writes a bit
— I have accepted two or three articles of his for our
"Further, he is engaged to Miss Aylmore, the eldest
daughter of Aylmore, the Member of Parliament who
has been charged at Bow Street today with the murder
' ' I know. Well, what then, Spargo ? ' '
' ' But the most important matter, ' ' continued Spargo,
speaking very deliberately, "is this— that is, taking
that old woman's statement to be true, as I personally
believe it is — that Breton, as he has told me himself (I
have seen a good deal of him) was brought up by a
guardian. That guardian is Mr. Septimus Elphick, the
barrister. ' '
The proprietor and the editor looked at each other.
Their faces wore the expression of men thinking on the
same lines and arriving at the same conclusion. And
the proprietor suddenly turned on Spargo with a sharp
interrogation: "You think then "
"I think that Mr. Septimus Elphick is the Elphick,
STILL SILENT 229
and that Breton is the young Maitland of whom Mrs.
Gutch has been talking,''' he answered.
The editor got up, thrust his hands in his pockets, alid
began to pace the room.
"If that's so," he said, "if that's so, the mystery
deepens. What do you propose to do, Spargo ? ' '
"I think," said Spargo, slowly, "I think that without
telling him anything of what we have learnt, I should
like to see young Breton and get an introduction from
him to Mr. Elphick. I can make a good excuse for want-
ing an interview with him. If you will leave it in my
"Yes, yes!" said the proprietor, waving a hand.
"Leave it entirely in Spargo 's hands."
"Keep me informed," said the editor. "Do what
you think. It strikes me you're on the track."
Spargo left their presence, and going back to his
own room, still faintly redolent of the personality of
Mrs. Gutch, got hold of the reporter who had been
present at Bow Street when Aylmore was brought up
that morning. There was nothing new; the authorities
had merely asked for another remand. So far as the
reporter knew, Aylmore had said nothing fresh to any-
Spargo went round to the Temple and up to Ronald
Breton's chambers. He found the young barrister just
preparing to leave, and looking unusually grave and
thoughtful. At sight of Spargo he turned back from
his outer door, beckoned the journalist to follow him,
and led him into an inner room.
230 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"I say, Spargo!" he said, as he motioned his visitor
to take a chair. ' ' This is beco&ing something more than
serious. You know what you told me to do yesterday
as regards Aylmore?"
"To get him to tell all?— Yes," said Spargo.
Breton shook his head.
"Stratton — his solicitor, you know — and I saw him
this morning before the poliee>-court proceedings," he
continued. "I told him of my talk with you; I even
went as far as to tell him that his daughters had been to
the Watchman office. Stratton and I both begged him
to take your advice and tell all, everything, no matter
at what cost to his private feelings. We pointed out to
him the serious nature of the evidence against him ; how
he had damaged himself by not telling the whole truth
at once ; how he had certainly done a great deal to excite
suspicion against himself; how, as the evidence stands
at present, any jury could scarcely do less than convict
him. And it was all no good, Spargo ! ' '
"He won't say anything?"
"He'll say no more. He was adamant. 'I told the
entire truth in respect to my dealings with Marbury on
the night he met his death at the inquest,' he said, over
and over again, ' and I shall say nothing further on any
consideration. If the law likes to hang an innocent man
on such evidence as that, let it!' And he persisted in
that until we left him. Spargo, I don't know what's
to be done."
"And nothing happened at the police-court?"
"Nothing — another remand. Stratton and I saw Ayl-
more again before he was removed. He left us with a
STILL SILENT 231
sort of sardonic remark — 'If you all want to prove me
innocent,' he said, 'find the guilty man.' "
"Well, there was a tremendous lot of common sense
in that, ' ' said Spargo.
''Yes, of course, but how, how, how is it going to be
done?" exclaimed Breton. "Are you any nearer — is
Kathbury any nearer? Is there the slightest clue that
will fasten the guilt on anybod;/ else?"
Spargo gave no answer to these questions. He re-
mained silent a while, apparently thinking.
"Was Rathbury in court?" he suddenly asked.
"He was," replied Breton. "He was there with two
or three other men who I suppose were detectives, and
seemed to be greatly interested in Aylmore."
"If I don't see Rathbury tonight I'll see him in the
morning," said Spargo. He rose as if to go, but after
lingering a moment, sat down again. "Look here," he
continued, "I don't know how this thing stands in law,
but would it be a very weak case against Aylmore if the
prosecution couldn't show some motive for his killing
"There's no necessity to prove motive in murder,"
he said. "But I'll tell you what, Spargo — if the prose-
cution can show that Aylmore had a motive for getting
rid of Marbury, if they could prove that it was to Ayl-
more 's advantage to silence him— why, then, I don't
think he's a chance."
"I see. But so far no motive, no reason for his kill-
ing Marbury has been shown."
"I know of none."
THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Spargo rose and moved to the door.
"Well, I'm off," he said. Then, as if he suddenly
recollected something, he turned back. ' ' Oh, by the by, ' '
he said, "isn't your guardian, Mr. Elphick, a big au-
thority on philately ? ' '
"One of the biggest. Awful enthusiast."
"Do you think he'd tell me a bit about those Austra-
lian stamps which Marbury showed to Criedir, the
"Certain, he would — delighted. Here" — and Breton
scribbled a few words on a card — "there's his address
and a word from me. I '11 tell you when you can always
find him in, five nights out of seven — at nine o'clock,
after hcs's dined. I'd go with you tonight, but I must
go to Aylmore's. The two girls are in terrible trouble."
' ' Give them a message from me, ' ' said Spargo as they
went out together. ' ' Tell them to keep up their hearts
and their courage."
MR. ELPHICK'S CHAMBERS
Spargo went round again to the Temple that night at
nine o'clock, asking himself over and over again two
questions — the first, how much does Elphick know? the
second, how much shall I tell him?
The old house in the Temple to which he repaired
and in which many a generation of old fogies had lived
since the days of Queen Anne, was full of stairs and
passages, and as Spargo had forgotten to get the exact
numher of the set of chambers he wanted, he was obliged
to wander about in what was a deserted building. So
wandering, he suddenly heard steps, firm, decisive steps
coming up a staircase which he himself had just climbed.
He looked over the banisters down into the hollow be-
neath. And there, marching up resolutely, was the
figure of a tall, veiled woman, and Spargo suddenly real-
ized, with a sharp quickening of his pulses, that for the
second time that day he was beneath one roof with Miss
Spargo 's mind acted quickly. Knowing what he now
knew, from his extraordinary dealings with Mother
Gutch, he had no doubt whatever that Miss Baylis had
come to see Mr. Elphick — come, of course, to tell Mr.
Elphick that he, Spargo, had visited her that morning,
234 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
and that he was on the track of the Maitland secret his-
tory. He had never thought of it before, for he had
been busily engaged since the departure of Mother
Gutch; but, naturally, Miss Baylis and Mr. Elphick
would keep in communication with each other. At any
rate, here she was, and her destination was, surely, El-
phick 's chambers. And the question for him, Sparge,
was — what to do?
What Spargo did was to remain in absolute silence,
motionless, tense, where he was on the stair, and to trust
to the chance that the woman did not look up. But Miss
Baylis neither looked up nor down : she reached a land-
ing, turned along a corridor with decision, and marched
forward. A moment later Spargo heard a sharp double
knock on a door: a moment after that he heard a door
heavily shut ; he knew then that Miss Baylis had sought
and gained admittance — somewhere.
To find out precisely where that somewhere was drew
Spargo down to the landing which Miss Baylis had just
left. There was no one about — he had not, in fact, seen
a soul since he entered the building. Accordingly he
went along the corridor into which he had seen Miss
Baylis turn. He knew that all the doors in that house
were double ones, and that the outer oak in each was
solid and substantial enough to be sound proof. Yet, as
men will under such circumstances, he walked softly;
he said to himself, smiling at the thought, that he would
be sure to start if somebody suddenly opened a door on
him. But no hand opened any door, and at last he came
to the end of the corridor and found himself confront-
MR. ELPHICK'S CHAMBERS
ing a small board on which was painted in white letters
on a black ground, Mr. Elphiek's Chambers.
Having satisfied himself as to his exact whereabouts,
Spargo drew back as quietly as he had come. There was
a window half-way along the corridor from which, he
had noticed as he came along, one could catch a glimpse
of the Embankment and the Thames; to this he with-
drew, and leaning on the sill looked out and considered
matters. Should he go and — if he could gain admittance
— beard these two conspirators? Should he wait until
the woman came out and let her see that he was on the
track? Should he hide again until she went, and then
see Elphick alone ?
In the end Spargo did none of these things immedi-
ately. He let things slide for the moment. He lighted
a cigarette and stared at the river and the brown sails,
and the buildings across on the Surrey side. Ten min-
utes went by — ^twenty minutes — nothing happened.
Then, as half -past nine struck from all the neighbouring
clocks, Spargo flung away a second cigarette, marched
■straight down the corridor and knocked boldly at Mr.
Greatly to Spargo 's surprise, the door was opened be-
fore there was any necessity to knock again. And there,
calmly confronting him, a benevolent, yet somewhat dep-
recating expression on his spectacled and placid face,
stood Mr. Elphick, a smoking cap on his head, a tasseled
smoking jacket over his dress shirt, and a short pipe in
Spargo was taken aback : Mr. Elphick apparently was
THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
not. He held the door well open, and motioned the
journalist to enter.
"Come in, Mr. Spargo," he said. "I was expecting
you. Walk forward into my sitting-room."
Spargo, much astonished at this reception, passed
through an ante-room into a handsomely furnished
apartment full of books and pictures. In spite of the
fact that it was still very little past midsummer there
was a cheery fire in the grate, and on a table set near a
roomy arm-chair was set such creature comforts as a
spirit-case, a syphon, a tumbler, and a novel — from
which things Spargo argued that Mr. Elphick had been
taking his ease since his dinner. But in another arm-
chair on the opposite side of the hearth was the forbid-
ding figure of Miss Baylis, blacker, gloomier, more mys-
terious than ever. She neither spoke nor moved when
Spargo entered: she did not even look at him. And
Spargo stood staring at her until Mr. Elphick, having
closed his doors, touched him on the elbow, and motioned
him courteously to a seat.
"Yes, I was expecting you, Mr. Spargo," he said, as
he resumed his own chair. ' ' I have been expecting you
at any time, ever since you took up your investigation
of the Marbury affair, in some of the earlier stages of
which you saw me, you will remember, at the mortuary.
But since Miss Baylis told me, twenty minutes ago, that
you had been to her this morning I felt sure that it
would not be more than a few hours before you would
come to me."
"Why, Mr. Elphick, should you suppose that I should
MR. ELPHICK'S CHAMBERS 237
come to you at all?" asked Sparge, now in full posses-
sion of his wits.
"Because I felt sure that you would leave no stone
unturned, no corner unexplored," replied Mr. Elphick.
"The curiosity of the modern pressman is insatiable."
"I have no curiosity, Mr. Elphick," he said. "I am
charged by my paper to investigate the circumstances
of the death of the man who was found in Middle
Temple Lane, and, if possible, to track his murderer,
Mr. Elphick laughed slightly and waved his hand.
"My good young gentleman!" he said. "You exag-
gerate your own importance. I don 't approve of mod-
ern journalism nor of its methods. In your own case
you have got hold of some absurd notion that the man
John Marbury was in reality one John Maitland, once
of Market Mileaster, and you have been trying to
frighten Miss Baylis here into "
Spargo suddenly rose from his chair. There was a cer-
tain temper in him which, when once roused, led him to
straight hitting, and it was roused now. He looked the
old barrister full in the face.
"Mr. Elphick," he said, "you are evidently unaware
of all that I know. So I will tell you what I will do.
I will go back to my oflSc, and I will write down what
I do know, and give the true and absolute proofs of
what I know, and, if you will trouble yourself to read
the Watchman tomorrow morning, then you, too, will
know. ' '
THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"Dear me— dear me!" said Mr. Elphiek, banteringly.
"We are so used to ultra-sensational stories frota the
Watchman that— but I am a curious and inquisitive old
man, my good young sir, so perhaps you will tell me in
a word what it is you do know, eh?"
Spargo reflected for a second. Then he bent forward
across the table and looked the old barrister straight in
"Yes," he said quietly. "I will tell you what I know
beyond doubt. I know that the man murdered under
the name of John Marbury was, without doubt, John
Maitland, of Market Milcaster, and that Ronald Breton
is his son, whom you took from that woman ! ' '
If Spargo had desired a complete revenge for the
cavalier fashion in which Mr. Elphiek had treated it he
could not have been afforded a more ample one than
that offered to him by the old barrister's reception of
this news. Mr. Elphiek 's face not only fell, but
changed; his expression of almost sneering contempt
was transformed to one clearly resembling abject terror;
he dropped his pipe, fell back in his chair, recovered
himself, gripped the chair's arms, and stared at Spargo
as if the young man had suddenly announced to him
that in another minute he must be led to instant execu-
tion. And Spargo, quick to see his advantage, followed
"That is what I know, Mr. lilphick, and if I choose,
all the world shall know it tomorrow morning ! " he said
firmly. ' ' Ronald Breton is the son of the murdered man,
and Ronald Breton is engaged to be married to the
daughter of the man charged with the murder. Do you
MR. ELPHICK'S CHAMBERS 239
hear that ? It is not matter of suspicion, or of idea, or
of conjecture, it is fact — fact!"
Mr. Elphick slowly turned his face to Miss Baylis.
He gasped out a few words.
' ' You— did— not— tell— me— this ! ' '
Then Spargo, turning to the woman, saw that she,
too, was white to the lips and as frightened as the man.
"I— didn't know!" she muttered. "He didn't tell
me. He only told me this morning what — ^what I've
Spargo picked up his hat.
"Good-night, Mr. Elphick," he said.
But before he could reach the door the old barrister
had leapt from his chair and seized him with trembling
hands. Spargo turned and looked at him. He knew
then that for some reason or other he had given Mr.
Septimus Elphick a thoroughly bad fright.
"Well?" he growled.
"My dear young gentleman!" implored Mr. Elphick.
"Don't go ! I'll — I'll do anything for you if you won't
go away to print that. I'll — I'll give you a thousand
Spargo shook him off.
"That's enough!" he snarled. "Now, I am off!
What, you 'd try to bribe me ? "
Mr. Elphick wrung his hands.
"I didn't mean that — indeed I didn't!" he almost
wailed. "I — I don't know what I meant. Stay, young
gentleman, stay a little, and let us — let us talk. Let me
have a word with you — as many words as you please.
I implore you ! ' '
240 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Spargo made a fine pretence of hesitation.
"If I stay," he said, at last, "it will only be on the
strict condition that you answer — and answer truly-
whatever questions I like to ask you. Otherwise "
He made another move to the door, and again Mr.
Elphick laid beseeching hands on him.
"Stay!" he said. "I'll answer anything you like!"
OF PROVED IDENTITY
Spargo sat down again in the chair which he had just
left, and looked at the two people upon whom his start-
ling announcement had produced such a curious effect.
And he recognized as he looked at them that, while they
were both frightened, they were frightened in different
ways. Miss Baylis had already recovered her compos-
ure; she now sat sombre and stern as ever, returning
Spargo 's look with something of indifferent defiance ; he
thought he could see that in her mind a certain fear was
battling with a certain amount of wonder that he had
discovered the secret. It seemed to him that so far as
she was concerned the secret had come to an end ; it was
as if she said in so many words that now the secret was
out he might do his worst.
But upon Mr. Septimus Blphick the effect was very
different. He was still trembling from excitement; he
groaned as he sank into his chair and the hand with
which he poured out a glass of spirits shook; the glass
rattled against his teeth when he raised it to his lips.
The half-contemptuous fashion of his reception of Spargo
had now wholly disappeared ; he was a man who had re-
ceived a shock, and a bad one. And Spargo, watching
him keenly, said to himself : ' This man knows a great
deal more than, a great deal beyond, the mere fact that
U2 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Marbury was Maitland, and that Ronald Breton is in
reality Maitland 's son; he knows something which he
never wanted anybody to know, which he firmly believed
it impossible anybody ever could know. It was as if he
had buried something deep, deep down in the lowest
depths, and was as astounded as he was frightened to
find that it had been at last flung up to the broad light
"I shall wait," suddenly said Spargo, "until you are
composed, Mr. Elphick. I have no wish to distress you.
But I see, of course, that the truths which I have told
you are of a sort that cause you considerable — shall we
Elphick took another stiff pull at his liquor. His
hand had grown steadier, and the colour was coming
back to his face.
"If you will let me explain," he said. "If you will
hear what was done for the boy's sake — eh?"
"That," answered Spargo, "is precisely what I wish.
I can tell you this — I am the last man in the world to
wish harm of any sort to Mr. Breton."
Miss Baylis relieved her feelings with a scornful sniff.
"He says that!" she exclaimed, addressing the ceiling.
"He says that, knowing that he means to tell the world
in his rag of a paper that Ronald Breton, on whom every
care has been lavished, is the son of a scoundrel, an
ex-convict, a "
Elphick lifted his hand.
"Hush— hush!" he said imploringly. "Mr. Spargo
means well, I am sure — I am convinced. If Mr. Spargo
will hear me "
OF PROVED IDENTITY 243
But before Spargo could reply, a loud insistent knock-
ing came at the outer door. Elphiek started nervously,
but presently he moved across the room, walking as if
he had received a blow, and opened the door. A boy's
voice penetrated into the sitting-room.
"If you please, sir, is Mr. Spargo, of the Watchman,
here? He left this address in case he was wanted."
Spargo recognized the voice as that of one of the oflSce
messenger boys, and jumping up, went to the door.
"What is it, Rawlins?" he asked.
"Will you please come back to the office, sir, at once?
There's Mr. Rathbury there and says he must see you
instantly. ' '
"All right," answered Spargo. "I'm coming just
He motioned the lad away, and turned to Elphiek.
' ' I shall have to go, ' ' he said. ' ' I may be kept. Now,
Mr. Elphiek, can I come to see you tomorrow morning ? ' '
"Yes, yes, tomorrow morning!" replied Elphiek
eagerly. "Tomorrow morning, certainly. At eleven —
eleven o'clock. That will do?"
"I shall be here at eleven," said Spargo. "Eleven
sharp. ' '
He was moving away when Elphiek caught him by
"A word — just a word!" he said. "You — you have
not told the — the boy — Ronald — of what you know?
"I haven't," replied Spargo.
Elphiek tightened his grip on Spargo 's sleeve. He
looked into his face beseechingly.
Mi THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"Promise me — promise me, Mr. Spargo, that you won't
tell him until you have seen me in the morning ! " he im-
plored. "I beg you to promise me this."
Spargo hesitated, considering matters.
"Very well — I promise," he said.
"And you won't print it?" continued Elphiek, still
clinging to him. "Say you won't print it tonight?"
"I shall not print it tonight," answered Spargo.
Elphiek released his grip on the young man's arm.
"Come — at eleven tomorrow morning," he said, and
drew back and closed the door.
Spargo ran quickly to the office and hurried up to
his own room. And there, calmly seated in an easy-
chair, smoking a cigar, and reading an evening news-
paper, was Rathbury, unconcerned and outwardly as im-
perturbable as ever. He greeted Spargo with a careless
nod and a smile.
"Well," he said, "how's things?"
Spargo, half-breathless, dropped into his desk-chair.
"You didn't come here to tell me that," he said.
"No," he said, throwing the newspaper aside, "I
didn't. I came to tell you my latest. You're at full
liberty to stick it into your paper tonight : it may just
as well be known."
"Well?" said Spargo.
Rathbury took his cigar out of his lips and yawned.
"Aylmore's identified," he said lazily.
Spargo sat up, sharply.
OF PROVED IDENTITY 245
"Identified, my son. Beyond doubt."
"But as whom — as what?" exclaimed Spargo.
"He's an old lag — an ex-convict. Served his time
partly at Dartmoor. That, of course, is where he met
Maitland or Marbury. D'ye see? Clear as noontide
Spargo sat drumming his fingers on the desk before
him. His eyes were fixed on a map of London that hung
on the opposite wall; his ears heard the throbbing of
the printing-machines far below. But what he really
saw was the faces of the two girls ; what he really heard
was the voices of two girls . . .
"Clear as noontide — as noontide," repeated Rathbury
with great cheerfulness.
Spargo came back to the earth of plain and brutal
"What's clear as noontide?" he asked sharply.
"What? Why, the whole thing! Motive — every-
thing, ' ' answered Rathbury. ' ' Don 't you see, Maitland
and Aylmore (his real name is Ainsworth, by the by)
meet at Dartmoor, probably, or, rather, certainly, just
before Aylmore 's release. Aylmore goes abroad, makes
money, in time comes back, starts new career, gets into
Parliament, becomes big man. In time, Maitland, who,
after his time, has also gone abroad, also comes back.
The two meet. Maitland probably tries to blackmail
Aylmore or threatens to let folk know that the flourish-
ing Mr. Aylmore, M.P., is an ex-convict. Result — ^Ayl-
246 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
more lures him to the Temple and quiets him. Pooh!
— the whol? thing's clear as noontide, as I say. As —
noontide ! ' '
Spargo drummed his fingers again.
"How?" he asked quietly. "How came Aylmore to
"My work," said Rathbury proudly. "My work, my
son. You see, I thought a lot. And especially after
we'd found out that Marbury was Maitland."
"You mean after I'd found out," remarked Spargo.
Rathbury waved his cigar.
"Well, well, it's all the same," he said. "You help
me, and I help you, eh ? Well, as I say, I thought a con-
siderable lot. I thought — now, where did Maitland, or
Marbury, know or meet Aylmore twenty or twenty-two
years ago ? Not in London, because we knew Maitland
never was in London — at any rate, before his trial, and
we haven't the least proof that he was in London after.
And why won't Aylmore tell? Clearly because it must
have been in some undesirable place. And then, all of
a sudden, it fiashed on me in a moment of — ^what do you
writing fellows call those moments, Spargo?"
"Inspiration, I should think," said Spargo. "Direct
inspiration. ' '
"That's it. In a moment of direct inspiration, it
flashed on me — why, twenty years ago, Maitland was in
Dartmoor — they must have met there ! And so, we got
some old warders who'd been there at that time to come
to town, and we gave 'em opportunities to see Aylmore
and to study him. Of course, he's twenty years older,
and he's grown a beard, but they began to recall him.
OF PROVED IDENTITY 247
and then one man remembered that if he was the man
they thought he'd a certain birth-mark. And— he
"Does Aylmore know that he's been identified?"
Rathbury pitched his cigar into the fireplace and
"Know!" he said scornfully. "Know? He's ad-
mitted it. What was the use of standing out against
proof like that. He admitted it tonight in my presence.
Oh, he knows all right ! ' '
"And what did he say?"
Rathbury laughed contemptuously.
"Say? Oh, not much. Pretty much what he said
about this affair — ^that when he was convicted the time
before he was an innocent man. He's certainly a good
hand at playing the innocent game. ' '
"And of what was he convicted?"
"Oh, of course, we know all about it — now. As soon
as we found out who he really was, we had all the par-
ticulars turned up. Aylmore, or Ainsworth (Stephen
Ainsworth his name really is) was a man who ran a sort
of what they call a Mutual Benefit Society in a town
right away up in the North — Cloudhampton — some
thirty years ago. He was nominally secretary, but it
was really his own affair. It was patronized by the
working classes — Cloudhampton 's a purely artisan popu-
lation — and they stuck a lot of their brass, as they call
it, in it. Then suddenly it came to smash, and there was
nothing. He — ^Ainsworth, or Aylmore — pleaded that he
was robbed and duped by another man, but the court
248 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
didn't believe him, and he got seven years. Plain story
you see, Spargo, when it all comes out, eh?"
"All stories are quite plain — ^when they come out,"
observed Spargo. "And he kept silence now, I suppose,
because he didn't want his daughters to know about his
"Just so," agreed Rathbury. "And I don't know
that I blame him. He thought, of course, that he'd go
scot-free over this Marbury affair. But he made his mis-
take in the initial stages, my boy — oh, yes ! ' '
Spargo got up from his desk and walked around his
room for a few minutes, Rathbury meanwhile finding
and lighting another cigar. At last Spargo came back
and clapped a hand on the detective's shoulder.
"Look here, Rathbury!" he said. "It's very evident
that you're now going on the lines that Aylmore did
murder Marbury. Eh?"
Rathbury looked up. His face showed astonishment.
"After evidence like that!" he exclaimed. "Why,
of course. There's the motive, my son, the motive!"
"Rathbury!" he said. "Aylmore no more murdered
Marbury than you did ! ' '
The detective got up and put on his hat.
" Oh ! " he said. ' ' Perhaps you know who did, then ? ' '
"I shall know in a few days," answered Spargo.
Rathbury stared wonderingly at him. Then he sud-
denly walked to the door. "Good-night!" he said
"Good-night, Rathbury," replied Spargo and sat
down at his desk.
OP PROVED IDENTITY 249
But that night Spargo wrote nothing for the Watch-
mcm. All he wrote was a short telegram addressed to
Aylmore's daughters. There were only three words on
it — Have no fear.
THE CLOSED DOORS
Alone of all the London morning newspapers, the
Watchman appeared next day destitute of sensational-
ism in respect to the Middle Temple Murder. The other
daily journals published more or less vivid accounts of
the identification of Mr. Stephen Aylmore, M.P. for the
Brookminster Division, as the ci-devant Stephen Ains-
worth, ex-convict, once upon a time founder and secre-
tary of the Hearth and Home Mutual Benefit Society,
the headquarters of which had been at Cloudhampton,
in Daleshire ; the fall of which had involved thousands
of honest working folk in terrible distress if not in ab-
solute ruin. Most of them had raked up Ainsworth's
past to considerable journalistic purpose: it had been
an easy matter to turn up old files, to recount the faU of
the Hearth and Home, to tell anew the story of the pri-
vations of the humble investors whose small hoards had
gone in the crash ; it had been easy, too, to set out again
the history of Ainsworth 's arrest, trial, and fate. There
was plenty of romance in the story : it was that of a man
who by his financial ability had built up a great indus-
trial insurance society; had — as was alleged — converted
the large sums entrusted to him to his own purposes ; had
THE CLOSED DOORS 251
been detected and punished; had disappeared, after his
punishment, so effectually that no one knew where he
had gone; had come back, comparatively a few years
later, under another name, a very rich man, and had
entered Parliament and been, in a modest way, a public
character without any of those who knew him in his
new career suspecting that he had once worn a dress
liberally ornamented with the broad arrow. Fine copy,
excellent copy: some of the morning newspapers made
a couple of columns of it.
But the Watchman, up to then easily ahead of all its
contemporaries in keeping the public informed of all
the latest news in connection with the Marbury affair,
contented itself with a brief announcement. For after
Eathbury had left him, Spargo had sought his pro-
prietor and his editor, and had sat long in consultation
with them, and the result of their talk had been that
all the Watchman thought fit to tell its readers next
morning was contained in a curt paragraph :
"We understand that Mr. Stephen Aylmore, M.P.,
who is charged with the murder of John Marbury, or
Maitland, in the Temple on June 21st last, was yester-
day afternoon identified by certain officials as Stephen
Ainsworth, who was sentenced to a term of penal servi-
tude in connection with the Hearth and Home Mutual
Benefit Society funds nearly thirty years ago."
Coming down to Fleet Street that morning, Spargo,
strolling jauntily along the front of the Law Courts, en-
countered a fellow-journalist, a man on an opposition
newspaper, who grinned at him in a fashion which in-
262 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"Left behind a bit, that rag of yours, this morning,
Spargo, my boy!" he remarked elegantly. "Why,
you've missed one of the finest opportunities I ever heard
of in connection with that Aylmore affair. A miser-
able paragraph ! — why, I worked off a column and a half
in ours ! What were you doing last night, old man?"
"Sleeping," said Spargo and went by with a nod.
He left the other staring at him, and crossed the road
to Middle Temple Lane. It was just on the stroke of
eleven as he walked up the stairs to Mr. Elphick's cham-
bers; precisely eleven as he knocked at the outer door.
It is seldom that outer doors are closed in the Temple
at that hour, but Elphick's door was closed fast enough.
The night before it had been promptly opened, but there
was no response to Spargo 's first knock, nor to his sec-
ond, nor to his third. And half-unconsciously he mur-
mured aloud: "Elphick's door is closed!"
It never occurred to Spargo to knock again: instinct
told him that Elphick's door was closed because Elphick
was not there; closed because Elphick was not going to
keep the appointment. He turned and walked slowly
back along the corridor. And just as he reached the
head of the stairs Ronald Breton, pale and anxious,
came running up them, and at sight of Spargo paused,
staring questioningly at him. As if with a mutual sym-
pathy the two young men shook hands.
"I'm glad you didn't print more than those two or
three lines in the Watchma/n this morning,,' ' said Breton.
"It was — considerate. As for the other papers! — ^Ayl-
more assured me last night, Spargo, that though he did
THE CLOSED DOORS 253
serve that term at Dartmoor he was innocent enough!
He was scapegoat for another man who disappeared."
Then, as Spargo merely nodded, he added, awkwardly :
"And I'm obliged to you, too, old chap, for sending
that wire to the two girls last night — it was good of you.
They want all the comfort they can get, poor things!
But — ^what are you doing here, Spargo 1 ' '
Spargo leant against the head of the stairs and folded
"I came here," he said, "to keep an appointment with
Mr. Elphick — an appointment which he made when I
called on him, as you suggested, at nine o'clock. The
appointment — a most important one — was for eleven
Breton glanced at his watch.
"Come on, then," he said. "It's well past that now,
and my guardian's a very martinet in the matter of
punctuality. ' '
But Spargo did not move. Instead, he shook his head,
regarding Breton with troubled eyes.
"So am I," he answered. "I was trained to it.
Your guardian isn't there, Breton."
"Not there? If he made an appointment for eleven?
Nonsense — I never knew him miss an appointment!"
"I knocked three times — ^three separate times," an-
"You should have knocked half a dozen times — he
may have overslept himself. He sits up late — he and
old Cardlestone often sit up half the night, talking
stamps or playing piquet," said Breton. "Come on —
you '11 see ! "
254 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Spargo shook his head again.
"He's not there, Breton," he said. "He's gone!"
Breton stared at the journalist as if he had just an-
nounced that he had seen Mr. Septimus Elphick riding
down Fleet Street on a dromedary. He seized Spargo 's
' ' Come on ! " he said. ' ' I have a key to Mr. Elphick 's
door, so that I can go in and out as I like. I'll soon
show you whether he's gone or not."
Spargo followed the young barrister down the cor-
"All the same," he said meditatively as Breton fitted
a key to the latch, "he's not there, Breton. He's —
"Good heavens, man, I don't know what you're talk-
ing about!" exclaimed Breton, opening the door and
walking into the lobby. ' ' Off ! Where on earth should
he be off to, when he's made an appointment with you
for eleven, and — Hullo!"
He had opened the door of the room in which Spargo
had met Elphick and Miss Baylis the night before, and
was walking in when he pulled himself up on the
threshold with a sharp exclamation.
"Good God!" he cried. "What— what's all this?"
Spargo quietly looked over Breton's shoulder. It
needed but one quick glance to show him that much had
happened in that quiet room since he had quitted it the
night before. There stood the easy-chair in which he
had left Elphick; there, close by it, but pushed aside,
as if by a hurried hand, was the little table with its
THE CLOSED DOORS 255
spirit case, its syphon, its glass, ia which stale liquid
still stood ; there was the novel, turned face downwards ;
there, upon the novel, was Elphick's pipe. But the rest
of the room was in dire confusion. The drawers of a
bureau had been pulled open and never put back ; papers
of all descriptions, old legal-looking documents, old let-
ters, littered the centre-table and the floor ; in one corner
of the room a black japanned box had been opened, its
contents strewn about, and the lid left yawning. And
in the grate, and all over the fender there were masses
of burned and charred paper; it was only too evident
that the occupant of the chambers, wherever he mi^ht
have disappeared to, had spent some time before his dis-
appearance in destroying a considerable heap of docu-
ments and papers, and in such haste that he had not
troubled to put matters straight before he went.
Breton stared at this scene for a moment in utter con-
sternation. Then he made one step towards an inner
door, and Spargo followed him. Together they entered
an inner room — a sleeping apartment. There was no
one in it, but there were evidences that Blphick had just
as hastily packed a bag as he had destroyed his papers.
The clothes which Spargo had seen him wearing the
previous evening were flung here, there, everywhere;
the gorgeous smoking-jacket was tossed unceremoniously
in one comer, a dress-shirt, in the bosom of which valu-
able studs still glistened, in another. One or two suit-
cases lay about, as if they had been examined and dis-
carded in favour of something more portable ; here, too,
drawers, revealing stocks of linen and underclothing,
256 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
had been torn open and left open ; open, too, swung the
door of a wardrobe, revealing a quantity of expensive
clothing. And Spargo, looking around him, seemed to
see all that had happened — ^the hasty, almost frantic
search for and tearing up and burning of papers; the
hurried change of clothing, of packing necessaries into
a bag that could be carried, and then the flight the get-
ting away, the
"What on earth does all this mean?" exclaimed
Breton. ' ' What is it, Spargo ? ' '
"I mean exactly what I told you," answered Spargo.
"F-^'s off! Off!"
"Off! But why off? What— my guardian!— as
quiet an old gentleman as there is in the Temple — off!"
cried Breton. "For what reason, eh? It isn't — good
God, Spargo, it isn't because of anything you said to
him last night!"
"I should say it is precisely because of something that
I said to him last night," replied Spargo. "I was a fool
ever to let him out of my sight."
Breton turned on his companion and gasped.
"Out — of — ^your — sight!" he exclaimed. "Why —
why — you don't mean to say that Mr. Blphick has any-
thing to do with this Marbury affair? For God's sake,
Spargo—^ — "
Spargo laid a hand on the young barrister's shoulder.
"I'm afraid you'll have to hear a good deal, Breton,"
he said. ' ' I was going to talk to you today in any case.
You see "
Before Spargo could say more a woman, bearing the
implements which denote the charwoman's profession.
THE CLOSED DOORS 257
entered the room and immediately cried out at what she
saw. Breton turned on her almost savagely.
"Here, you!" he said. "Have you seen anything of
Mr. Elphiek this morning?"
The charwoman rolled her eyes and lifted her hands.
"Me, sir! Not a sign of him, sir. Which I never
comes here much before half-past eleven, sir, Mr. El-
phiek being then gone out to his breakfast. I see him
yesterday morning, sir, which he was then in his usual
state of good health, sir, if anything 's the matter with
him now. No, sir, I ain 't seen nothing of him. ' '
Breton let out another exclamation of impatience.
"You'd better leave all this," he said. "Mr. El-
phiek 's evidently gone away in a hurry, and you mustn 't
touch anything here until he comes back. I'm going
to lock up the chambers : if you 've a key of them give it
The charwoman handed over a key, gave another
astonished look at the rooms, and vanished, muttering,
and Breton turned to Spargo.
"What do you say?" he demanded. "I must hear —
a good deal! Out with it, then, man, for Heaven's
But Spargo shook his head.
"Not now, Breton," he answered. "Presently, I tell
you, for Miss Aylmore's sake, and your own, the first
thing to do is to get on your guardian's track. We must
—must, I say! — and at once."
Breton stood staring at Spargo for a moment as if he
could not credit his own senses. Then he suddenly mo-
tioned Spargo out of the room.
258 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
' ' Come on ! " he said. ' ' I know who '11 know where he
is, if anybody does. ' '
' ' Who, then ? ' ' asked Spargo, as they hurried out.
" Cardlestone, " answered Breton, grimly. "Cardie-
stone ! ' '
There was as much bright sunshine that morning in
Middle Temple Lane as ever manages to get into it, and
some of it was shining in the entry into which Spargo
and Breton presently hurried. Full of haste as he was
Breton paused at the foot of the stair. He looked down
at the floor and at the wall at its side.
""Wasn't it there?" he said in a low voice, pointing
at the place he looked at. "Wasn't it there, Spargo,
just there, that Marbury, or, rather, Maitland, was
"It was just there," answered Spargo.
"You saw him?"
"I saw him."
"Immediately after he was found. You know all
that, Breton. "Why do you ask now?"
Breton, who was still staring at the place on which he
had fixed his eyes on walking into the entry, shook his
"Don't know," he answered. "I — but come on —
let's see if old Cardlestone can tell us anything."
There was another charwoman, armed with pails and
buckets, outside Cardlestone 's door, into which she was
just fitting a key. It was evident to Spargo that she
260 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
knew Breton, for she smiled at him as she opened the
"I don't think Mr. Cardlestone '11 be in, sir," she
said. " He 's generally gone out to breakfast at this time
— him and Mr. Elphick goes together."
"Just see," said Breton. "I want to see him if he
is in." The charwoman entered the chambers and im-
"Quite so," remarked Spargo. "That's what I ex-
pected to hear. Cardlestone, you see, Breton, is also —
Breton made no reply. He rushed after the char-
woman, with Spargo in close attendance.
"Good God — another!" groaned Breton.
If the confusion in Elphick 's rooms had been bad,
that in Cardlestone 's chambers was worse. Here again
aU the features of the previous scene were repeated —
drawers had been torn open, papers thrown about; the
hearth was choked with light ashes; everything was at
sixes and sevens. An open door leading into an inner
room showed that Cardlestone, like Elphick, had hastily
packed a bag ; like Elphick had changed his clothes, and
had thrown his discarded garments anywhere, into any
corner. Spargo began to realize what had taken place
— Elphick, having made his own preparations for flight,
had come to Cardlestone, and had expedited him, and
they had fled together. But — ^why?
The charwoman sat down in the nearest chair and be-
gan to moan and sob ; Breton strode forward, across the
heaps of papers and miscellaneous objects tossed aside
in that hurried search and clearing up, into the inner
room, And Spargo, looking about him, suddenly caught
sight of something lying on the floor at which he made a
sharp clutch. He had just secured it and hurried it into
his pocket when Breton came back.
"I don't know what all this means, Spargo," he said,
almost wearily. "I suppose you do. Look here," he
went on, turning to the charwoman, "stop that row —
that'll do no good, you know. I suppose Mr. Cardie-
stone's gone away in a hurry. You'd better — what had
she better do, Spargo?"
"Leave things exactly as they are, lock up the cham-
bers, and as you're a friend of Mr. Cardlestone's give
you the key," answered Spargo, with a significant glance.
"Do that, now, and let's go — I've something to do."
Once outside, with the startled charwoman gone away,
Spargo turned to Breton.
"I'll tell you all I know, presently, Breton," he said.
"In the meantime, I want to find out if the lodge porter
saw Mr. Elphick or Mr. Cardlestone leave. I must know
where they've gone — if I can only find out. I don't
suppose they went on foot."
"All right," responded Breton, gloomily. "We'll go
and ask. But this is all beyond me. You don't mean
to say "
"Wait a while," answered Spargo. "One thing at
once," he continued, as they walked up Middle Temple
Lane. "This is the first thing. You ask the porter if
he's seen anything of either of them — he knows you."
The porter, duly interrogated, responded with alacrity.
"Anything of Mr. Elphick this morning, Mr. Breton?"
he answered. "Certainly, sir. I got a taxi for Mr.
262 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Elphick and Mr. Cardlestone early this morning — soon
after seven. Mr. Elphiek said they were going to Paris,
and they'd breakfast at Charing Cross before the train
"Say when they'd be back?" asked Breton, with an
assumption of entire carelessness.
"No, sir, Mr. Elphick didn't," answered the porter.
"But I should say they wouldn't be long because they'd
only got small suit-cases with them — such as they'd put
a day or two's things in, sir."
"All right," said Breton. He turned away towards
Spargo who had already moved off. "What next?" he
asked. "Charing Cross, I suppose?"
Spargo smiled and shook his head.
"No," he answered. "I've no use for Charing Cross.
They haven't gone to Paris. That was all a blind. For
the present let's go back to your chambers. Then I'll
talk to you."
Once within Breton's inner room, with the door closed
upon them, Spargo dropped into an easy-chair and
looked at the young barrister with earnest attention.
"Breton !" he said. "I believe we're coming in sight
of land. You want to save your prospective father-in-
law, don't you?"
"Of course!" growled Breton. "That goes without
saying. But "
"But you may have to make some sacrifices in order
to do it," said Spargo. "You see "
' ' Sacrifices ! ' ' exclaimed Breton. ' ' What ' '
"You may have to sacrifice some ideas— you may find
that you'll not be able to think as well of some people
in the future as you have thought of them in the past.
For instance — Mr. Elphick."
Breton's face grew dark.
"Speak plainly, Spargo!" he said. "It's best with
"Very well," replied Spargo. "Mr. Elphick, then,
is in some way connected with this affair."
"You mean the — murder?"
"I mean the murder. So is Cardlestone. Of that I 'm
now dead certain. And that's why they're off. I
startled Elphick last night. It's evident that he im-
mediately communicated with Cardlestone, and that
they made a rapid exit. Why?"
"Why? That's what I'm asking you! Why?
"Because they're afraid of something coming out.
And being afraid, their first instinct is to — run.
They've run at the first alarm. Foolish— but instinc-
Breton, who had flung himself into the elbow-chair at
his desk, jumped to his feet and thumped his blotting-
"Spargo!" he exclaimed. "Are you telling me that
you accuse my guardian and his friend, Mr. Cardlestone,
of being — murderers ? ' '
"Nothing of the sort. I am accusing Mr. Elphick and
Mr. Cardlestone of knowing more about the murder than
they care to tell or want to tell. I am also accusing them,
and especially your guardian, of knowing all about
264. THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Maitland, alias Marbury. I made him confess last night
that he knew this dead man to be John Maitland."
"I did. And now, Breton, since it's got to come out,
we'll have the truth. Pull yourself together — get your
nerves ready, for you'll have to stand a shock or two.
But I know what I'm talking about — I can prove every
word I'm going to say to you. And first let me ask
you a few questions. Do you know anything about your
"Nothing — ^beyond what Mr. Elphick has told me."
"And what was that?"
"That my parents were old friends of his, who died
young, leaving me unprovided for, and that he took me
up and looked after me."
"And he's never given you any documentary evidence
of any s6rt to prove the truth of that story?"
"Never! I never questioned his statement. Why
"You never remember anything of your childhood —
I mean of any person who was particularly near you in
"I remember the people who brought me up from the
time I was three years old. And I have just a faint,
shadowy recollection of some woman, a tall, dark woman,
I think, before that."
"Miss Bay lis," said Spargo to himself. "All right,
Breton," he went on aloud. "I'm going to tell you the
truth. I'll tell it to you straight out and give you all
the explanations afterwards. Your real name is not
Breton at all. Your real name is Maitland, and you're
the only child of the man who was found murdered at the
foot of Cardlestone 's staircase!"
Spargo had been wondering how Breton would take
this, and he gazed at him with some anxiety as he got
out the last words. What would he do? — what would
he say? — what
Breton sat down quietly at his desk and looked Spargo
hard between the eyes.
"Prove that to me, Spargo," he said, in hard, mat-
ter-of-fact tones. "Prove it to me, every word. Every
word, Spargo ! ' '
"I will — every word," he answered. "It's the right
thing. Listen, then."
It was a quarter to twelve, Spargo noticed, throwing a
glance at the clock outside, as he began his story ; it was
past one when he brought it to an end. And all that
time Breton listened with the keenest attention, only
asking a (juestion now and then; now and then making
a brief note on a sheet of paper which he had drawn to
"That's all," said Spargo at last.
"It's plenty," observed Breton laconically.
He sat staring at his notes for a moment; then he
looked up at Spargo. "What do you really think?" he
' "About— what?" said Spargo.
"This flight of Blphick's and Cardlestone 's."
"I think, as I said, that they knew something which
they think may be forced upon them. I never saw a
man in a greater fright than that 1 saw Elphick in last
266 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
night. And it's evident that Cardlestone shares in that
fright, or they wouldn't have gone off in this way to-
gether. ' '
"Do you think they know anything of the actual
Spargo shook his head.
"I don't know. Probably. They know something.
And — look here!"
Spargo put his hand in his breast pocket and drew
something out which he handed to Breton, who gazed
at it curiously.
"What 's this ? " he demanded. ' ' Stamps ? ' '
"That, from the description of Criedir, the stamp-
dealer, is a sheet of those rare Australisin stamps which
Maitland had on him — carried on him. I picked it up
just now in Cardlestone 's room, when you were looking
into his bedroom."
"But that, after all, proves nothing. Those mayn't
be the identical stamps. And whether they are or not
"What are the probabilities?" interrupted Spargo
sharply. "I believe that those are the stamps which
Maitland — your father! — had on him, and I want to
know how they came to be in Cardlestone 's rooms. And
I will know."
Breton handed the stamps back.
"But the general thing, Spargo?" he said. "If they
didn't murder — I can't realize the thing yet! — my
"If they didn't murder your father, they know who
did!" exclaimed Spargo. "Now, then, it's time for
more action. Let Elphick and Cardlestone alone for
the moment — they'll be tracked easily enough. I want
to tackle something else for the moment. How do you
get an authority from the Government to open a grave ? ' '
"Order from the Home Secretary, which will have to
be obtained by showing the very strongest reasons why
it should be made."
"Good! We'll give the reasons. I want to have a
grave opened. ' '
"A grave opened! Whose grave?"
"The grave of the man Chamberlayne at Market Mil-
caster," replied Spargo.
"His? In Heaven's name, why?" he demanded.
Spargo laughed as he got up.
"Because I believe it's empty," he answered. "Be-
cause I believe that Chamberlayne is alive, and that his
other name is — Cardlestone ! ' '
THE PENITENT WINDOW-CLEANER
That afternoon Spargo had another of his momentous
interviews with his proprietor and his editor. The first
result was that all three drove to the offices of the legal
gentleman who catered for the Watchman when it wanted
any law, and that things were put in shape for an imr
mediate application to the Home Office for permission
to open the Chamberlayne grave at Market Milcaster;
the second was that on the following morning there ap-
peared in the Watchman a notice which set half the
mouths of London a-watering. That notice, penned by
Spargo, ran as follows : —
"One Thousand Pounds Reward.
"Whereas, on some date within the past twelve
months, there was stolen, abstracted, or taken from the
chambers in Fountain Court, Temple, occupied by
Mr. Stephen Aylmore, M.P., under the name of Mr.
Anderson, a walking-stick, or stout staff, of foreign
make, and of curious workmanship, which stick was
probably used in the murder of John Marbury, or
Maitland, in Middle Temple Lane, on the night of
June 21-22 last, and is now in the hands of the po-
"This is to give notice that the Proprietor of the
Watchman newspaper will pay the above-mentioned
reward (One Thousand Pounds Sterling) at once
and in cash to whosoever wiU prove that he or she
THE PENITENT WINDOW-CLEANER 269
stole, abstracted, or took away the said stick from the
said chambers, and will further give full information
as to his or her disposal of the same, and the Proprietor
of the Watchman moreover engages to treat any reve-
lation afifeeting the said stick in the most strictly
private and confidential manner, and to abstain from
using it in any way detrimental to the informant, who
should call at the Watchman office, and ask for Mr.
Frank Spargo at any time between eleven and one
o'clock midday, and seven and eleven o'clock in the
evening. ' '
"And you really expect to get some information
through that?" asked Breton, who came into Spargo 's
room about noon on the day on which the promising an-
nouncement came out. "You really do?"
"Before today is out," said Spargo confidently.
' ' There is more magic in a thousand-pound reward than
you fancy, Breton. I'll have the history of that stick
"How are you to tell that you won't be imposed
upon?" suggested Breton. "Anybody can say that he
or she stole the stick."
' ' Whoever comes here with any tale of a stick will have
to prove to me how he or she got the stick and what was
done with the stick, ' ' said Spargo. ' ' I haven 't the least
doubt that that stick was stolen or taken away from
Aylmore's rooms in Fountain Court, and that it got into
the hands of "
"Yes, of whom?"
"That's what I want to know in some fashion. I've
270 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
an idea, already. But I can afford to wait for definite
information. I know one thing — when I get that in-
formation — as I shall — we shall be a long way on the
road towards establishing Aylmore's innocence."
Breton made no remarlj upon this. He was looking at
Spargo with a meditative expression.
"Spargo," he said, suddenly, "do you think you'll
get that order for the opening of the grave at Market
"I was talking to the solicitors over the 'phone just
now," answered Spargo. "They've every confidence
about it. In fact, it's possible it may be made this af-
ternoon. In that case, the opening will be made early
"Shall you go?" asked Breton.
"Certainly. And you can go with me, if you like.
Better keep in touch with us all day in case we hear.
You ought to be there — you 're concerned. ' '
"I should like to go — I will go," said Breton. "And
if that grave proves to be — empty — I'll — I'll tell you
something. " ^ j
Spargo looked up with sharp instinct. ?
"You'll tell me something? Something? What?"
"Never mind — wait until we see if that coflBn con-
tains a dead body or lead and sawdust. If there's no
body there "
At that moment one of the senior messenger boys came
in and approached Spargo. His coimtenance, usually
subdued to an official stolidity, showed signs of some-
thing very like excitement.
"There's a man downstairs asking for you, Mr.
THE PENITENT WINDOW-CLEANER 271
Spargo," he said. "He's been hanging about a bit,
sir, — seems very shy about coming up. He won't say
what he wants, and he won't fill up a form, sir. Says
all he wants is a word or two with you. ' '
"Bring him up at once!" commanded Spargo. He
turned to Breton when the boy had gone. "There!"
he said, laughing. "This is the man about the stick —
you see if it isn't."
"You're such a cock-sure chap, Spargo," said Breton.
"You're always going on a straight line."
"Trying to, you mean," retorted Spargo. "Well,
stop here, and hear what this chap has to say: it'll no
doubt be amusing."
The messenger boy, deeply conscious that he was usher-
ing into Spargo 's room an individual who might shortly
carry away a thousand pounds of good Watchman money
in his pocket, opened the door and introduced a shy and
self-conscious young man, whose nervousness was pain-
fully apparent to everybody and deeply felt by himself.
He halted on the threshold, looking round the comfort-
ably-furnished room, and at the two well-dressed young
men which it framed as if he feared to enter on a scene
of such grandeur.
"Come in, come in!" said Spargo, rising and pointing
to an easy -chair at the side of his desk. "Take a seat.
You've called about that reward, of course."
The man in the chair eyed the two of them cautiously,
and not without suspicion. He cleared his throat with
a palpable effort.
"Of course," he said. "It's all on the strict private.
Name of Edward Mollison, sir."
272 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"And where do you live, and what do you do?" asked
"You might put it down Rowton House, White-
chapel," answered Edward MoUison. "Leastways,
that's where I generally hang out when I can afford it.
And — window-cleaner. Leastways, I was window clean-
ing when — when "
"When you came in contact with the stick we've been
advertising about," suggested Spargo. "Just so.
Well, MoUison— what about the stick?"
MoUison looked round at the door, and then at the
windows, and then at Breton.
"There ain't no danger of me being got into trouble
along of that stick?" he asked. " 'Cause if there is,
I ain't a-going to say a word — ^no, not for no thousand
pounds! Me never having been in no trouble of any
sort, guv 'nor — though a poor man."
"Not the slightest danger in the world, MoUison," re-
plied Spargo. "Not the least. All you've got to do is
to tell the truth — and prove that it is the truth. So
it was you who took that queer-looking stick out of Mr.
Aylmore's rooms in Fountain Court, was it?"
MoUison appeared to find this direct question sooth-
ing to his feelings. He smiled weakly.
"It was eert'nly me as took it, sir," he said. "Not
that I meant to pinch it — ^not me ! And, as you might
say, I didn't take it, when all's said and done. It was
— put on me."
"Put on you, was it?" said Spargo. "That's inter-
esting. And how was it put on you?"
MoUison grinned again and rubbed his chin.
THE PENITENT WINDOW-CLEANER 273
"It was this here way," he answered. "You see, I
was working at that time — near on to nine months since,
it is — ^for the Universal Daylight Window Cleaning Com-
pany, and I used to clean a many windows here and
there in the Temple, and them windows at Mr. Ayl-
more's — only I knew them as Mr. Anderson's — among
'em. And I was there one morning, early it was, when
the charwoman she says to me, 'I wish you'd take these
two or three hearthrugs, ' she says, ' and give 'em a good
beating,' she says. And me being always a ready one
to oblige, 'All right!' I says, and takes 'em. 'Here's
something to wallop 'em with,' she says, and pulls that
there old stick out of a lot that was in a stand in a corner
of the lobby. And that 's how I came to handle it, sir. ' '
"I see," said Spargo. "A good explanation. And
when you had beaten the hearthrugs — what then 1 ' '
MoUison smiled his weak smile again.
"Well, sir, I looked at that there stick and I see it
was something uncommon," he answered. "And I
thinks — 'Well, this Mr. Anderson, he's got a bundle of
sticks and walking canes up there — he'll never miss this
old thing,' I thinks. And so I left it in a corner when
I'd done beating the rugs, and when I went away with
my things I took it with me. ' '
"You took it with you?" said Spargo. "Just so.
To keep as a curiosity, I suppose?"
MoUison 's weak smile turned to one of cunning. He
was obviously losing his*nervousness ; the sound of his
own voice and the reception of his news was imparting
confidence to him.
"Not half!" he answered. "You see, guv 'nor, there
274 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
was an old cove as I knew in the Temple there as is, or
was, 'cause I ain't been there since, a collector of an-
tikities, like, and I'd sold him a queer old thing, time
and again. And, of course, I had him in my eye when
I took the stick away — see?" ,.,
"I see. And you took the stick to him?"
"I took it there and then," replied Mollison.
"Pitched him a tale, I did, about it having been brought
from foreign parts by Uncle Simon — ^which I never had
no Uncle Simon. Made out it was a rare curiosity —
which it might ha' been one, for all I know."
' ' Exactly. And the old cove took a fancy to it, eh ? "
"Bought it there and then," answered Mollison, with
something very like a wink.
"Ah! Bought it there and then. And how much did
he give you for it?" asked Spargo. "Something hand-
some, I hope?"
"Couple o' quid," replied Mollison. "Me not wish-
ing to part with a family heirloom for less. ' '
"Just so. And do you happen to be able to tell me
the old cove's name and his address, Mollison?" asked
"I do, sir. Which they've painted on his entry — the
fifth or sixth as you go down Middle Temple Lane," an-
swered Mollison. "Mr. Nicholas Cardlestone, first floor
up the staircase."
Spargo rose from his seat without as much as a look
"Come this way, Mollison," he said. "We'll go and
see about your little reward. Excuse me, Breton."
THE PENITENT WINDOW-CLEANER 275
Breton kicked his heels in solitude for half an hour.
Then Spargo came back.
"There — that's one matter settled, Breton," he said.
"Now for the next. The Home Secretary's made the
order for the opening of the grave at Market Milcaster.
I 'm going down there at once, and I suppose you 're com-
ing. And remember, if that grave's empty "
"If that grave's empty," said Breton, "I'll tell you
— a good deal."
THE CONTENTS OF THE COFFIN
There travelled down together to Market Milcaster
late that afternoon, Spargo, Breton, the officials from
the Home Office, entrusted with the order for the open-
ing of the Chamberlayne grave, and a solicitor acting
on behalf of the proprietor of the Watchman. It was
late in the evening when they reached the little town, but
Spargo, having looked in at the parlour of the "Yellow
Dragon ' ' and ascertained that Mr. Quarterpage had only
just gone home, took Breton across the street to the old
gentleman's house. Mr. Quarterpage himself came to
the door, and recognized Spargo immediately. Nothing
would satisfy him but that the two should go in; his
famQy, he said, had just retired, but he himself was
going to take a final nightcap and a cigar, and they must
"For a few minutes only then, Mr. Quarterpage,"
said Spargo as they followed the old man into his dining-
room. "We have to be up at daybreak. And — pos-
sibly — you, too, would like to be up just as early."
Mr. Quarterpage looked an enquiry over the top of a
decanter which he was handling.
"At daybreak?" he exclaimed.
"The fact is," said Spargo, "that grave of Cham-
berlayne 's is going to be opened at daybreak. We have
THE CONTENTS OF THE COFFIN 277
managed to get an order from the Plome Secretary for
the exhumation of Chamberlayne 's body: the officials
in charge of it have come down in the same train with
us; we're all staying across there at the 'Dragon.' The
officials have gone to make the proper arrangements with
your authorities. It will be at daybreak, or as near it as
can conveniently be managed. And I suppose, now that
you know of it, you'll be there?"
"God bless me!" exclaimed Mr. Quarterpage.
"You've really done that! Well, well, so we shall know
the truth at last, after all these years. You're a very
wonderful young man, Mr. Spargo, upon my word.
And this other young gentleman?"
Spargo looked at Breton, who had already given him
permission to speak. "Mr. Quarterpage," he said,
"this young gentleman is, without doubt, John Mait-
land's son. He's the young barrister, Mr. Ronald
Breton, that I told you of, but there's no doubt about
his parentage. And I'm sure you'll shake hands with
him and wish him well."
Mr. Quarterpage set down decanter and glass and
hastened to give Breton his hand.
"My dear young sir!" he exclaimed. "That I will
indeed ! And as to wishing you well — ah, I never wished
anything but well to your poor father. He was led
away, sir, led away by Chamberlayne. God bless me,
what a night of surprises! Why, Mr. Spargo, suppos-
ing that coffin is found empty— what then?"
"Then," answered Spargo, "then I think we shall be
able to put our hands on the man who is supposed to be
278 thp: middle temple murder
"You think my father was worked upon by this man
Chamberlayne, sir?" observed Breton a few minutes
later when they had all sat down round Mr. Quarter-
page's hospitable hearth. "You think he was unduly
influenced by him?"
Mr. Quarterpage shook his head sadly.
"Chamberlayne, my dear young sir," he answered.
"Chamberlayne was a plausible and a clever fellow.
Nobody knew anything about him until he came to this
town, and yet before he had been here very long he bad
contrived to ingratiate himself with everybody — of
course, to his own advantage. I firmly believe that he
twisted your father round his little finger. As I told
Mr. Spargo there when he was making his enquiries of
me a short while back, it would never have been any sur-
prise to me to hear — definitely, I mean, young gentlemen
— that all this money that was in question went into
Chamberlayne 's pockets. Dear me — dear me! — and you
really believe that Chamberlayne is actually alive, Mr.
Spargo pulled out his watch. "We shall all know
whether he was buried in that grave before another six
hours are over, Mr. Quarterpage," he said.
He might well have spoken of four hours instead of
six, for it was then nearly midnight, and before three
o'clock Spargo and Breton, with the other men who had
accompanied them from London were out of the "Yel-
low Dragon ' ' and on their way to the cemetery just out-
side the little town. Over the hills to the eastward the
grey dawn was slowly breaking: the long stretch of
THE CONTENTS OF THE COFFIN 279
marshland which lies between Market iVIilcaster and the
sea was white with fog: on the cypresses and acacias of
the cemetery hung veils and webs of gossamer: every-
thing around them was quiet as the dead folk who lay
beneath their feet. And the people actively concerned
went quietly to work, and those who could do nothing
but watch stood around in silence.
"in all my long life of over ninety years," whispered
old Quarterpage, who had met them at the cemetery
gates, looking fresh and brisk in spite of his shortened
rest, "I have never seen this done before. It seems a
strange, strange thing to interfere with a dead man's
last resting-i)laee — a dreadful thing."
"If there is a dead man there," said Spargo.
He himself was mainly curious about the details of
this exhumation ; he had no scruples, sentimental or
otherwise, about the breaking in upon the dead. He
watched all that was done. The men employed by the
local authorities, instructed over-night, had fenced in
the grave with canvas ; the proceedings were accordingly
conducted in strict privacy; a man was posted to keep
away any very early passersby, who might be attracted
by the unusual proceedings. At first there was nothing
to do but w^ait, and Spargo occupied himself by reflect-
ing that every spadeful of earth thrown out of that
grave was bringing him nearer to the truth ; he had an
unconquerable intuition that the truth of at any rate one
phase of the Marbury case was going to be revealed to
them. If the coffin to which they were digging down
contained a body, and that the body of the stockbroker.
280 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Chamberlayiie, then a good deal of his, Sparge 's, latest
theory, would be dissolved to nothingness. But if that
cofiSn contained no body at all, then "
"They're down to it!" whispered Breton.
Presently they all went and looked down into the
grave. The workmen had uncovered the coflSn prepara-
tory to lifting it to the surface ; one of them was brush-
ing the earth away from the name-plate. And in the
now strong light they could all read the lettering on it.
James Caktweight Chamberlayne
Spargo turned away as the men began to lift the coffin
out of the grave.
"We shall know now!" he whispered to Breton.
"And yet — what is it we shall know if "
"If what?" said Breton. "If— what?"
But Spargo shook his head. This was one of the great
moments he had lately been working for, and the issues
"Now for it!" said the Watchman's solicitor in an
undertone. "Come, Mr. Spargo, now we shall see."
They all gathered round the coflSn, set on low trestles
at the graveside, as the workmen silently went to work
on the screws. The sferews were rusted in their sockets ;
they grated as the men slowly worked them out. It
seemed to Spargo that each man grew slower and slower
in his movements; he felt that he himself was getting
fidgety. Then he heard a voice of authority.
THE CONTENTS OF THE COFFIN 281
"Lift the lid oflE!"
A man at the head of the coffin, a man at the foot sud-
denly and swiftly raised the lid : the men gathered round
craned their necks with a quick movement.
The coffin was packed to the brim with sawdust, tightly
pressed down. The surface lay smooth, undisturbed,
levelled as some hand had levelled it long years before.
They were not in the presence of death, but of deceit.
Somebody laughed faintly. The sound of the laugh-
ter broke the spell. The chief official present looked
round him with a smile.
" It is evident that there were good grounds for suspi-
cion," he remarked. "Here is no dead body, gentlemen.
See if anything lies beneath the sawdust," he added,
turning to the workmen. "Turn it out!"
The workmen began to scoop out the sawdust with
their hands; one of them, evidently desirous of making
sure that no body was in the coffin, thrust down his
fingers at various places along its length. He, too,
"The coffin's weighted with lead!" he remarked.
And tearing the sawdust aside, he showed those around
him that at three intervals bars of lead had been tightly
wedged into the coffin where the head, the middle, and
the feet of a corpse would have rested.
"Done it cleverly," he remarked, looking round.
"You see how these weights have been adjusted. When
a body's laid out in a coffin, you know, all the weight's
in the end where the head and trunk rest. Here you see
282 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
the heaviest bar of lead is in the middle ; the lightest at
the feet. Clever!"
"Clear out all the sawdust," said some one. "Let's
see if there's anything else."
There was something else. At the bottom of the cof-
fin two bundles of papers, tied up with pink tape. The
legal gentlemen present immediately manifested great
interest in these. So did Spargo, who, pulling Breton
along with him, forced his way to where the officials from
the Home Office and the solicitor sent by the Watchman
were hastily examining their discoveries.
The first bundle of papers opened evidently related
to transactions at Market Milcaster: Spargo caught
glimpses of names that were familiar to him, Mr. Quar-
terpage's amongst them. He was not at all astonished
to see these things. But he was something more than
astonished when, on the second parcel being opened, a
quantity of papers relating to Cloudhampton and the
Hearth and Home Mutual Benefit Society were revealed.
He gave a hasty glance at these and drew Breton aside.
"It strikes me we've found a good deal more than
we ever bargained for!" he exclaimed. "Didn't Ayl-
more say that the real culprit at Cloudhampton was an-
other man — his clerk or something of that sort?"
"He did," agreed Breton. "lie insists on it."
"Then this fellow Chamberlayne must have been the
man," said Spargo. "He came to Market Milcaster
from the north. What '11 be done with those papers?"
he asked, turning to the ofiicials.
"We are going to seal them up at once, and take them
THE CONTENTS OF THE COFFIN 283
to London," replied the principal person in authority.
"They will be quite safe, Mr. Spargo; have no fear.
We don't know what they may reveal."
"You don't, indeed!" said Spargo. "But I may as
well tell yon that 1 have a strong belief that they'll re-
veal a good deal that nobody dreams of, so take the
greatest care of them."
Then, without waiting for further talk with any one,
Spargo hurried Breton out of the cemetery. At the
gate, he seized him by the arm.
"Now, then, Breton!" he commanded. "Out with
"You promised to tell me something — a great deal,
you said — if we found that cofBn empty. It is empty.
Come on — quick!"
"All right. I believe I know where Elphick and
Cardlestone can be found. That's all."
"All! It's enough. Where, then, in heaven's
' ' Elphick has a queer little place where he and Cardle-
stone sometimes go fishing — right away up in one of the
wildest parts of the Yorkshire moors. I expect they've
gone there. Nobody knows even their names there —
they could go and lie quiet there for — ages."
"Do you know the way to it?"
"I do — I've been there."
Spargo motioned him to hurry.
"Come on, then," he said. "We're going there by
the very first train out of this. I know the train, too —
284 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
we 've just time to snatch a mouthful of breakfast and
to send a wire to the Watchman, and then we'll be off.
Yorkshire! — ^Gad, Breton, that's over three hundred
Travelliug all that long summer day, first from the
south-west of England to the Midlands, then from the
Midlands to the north, Spargo and Breton came late at
night to Hawes' Junction, on the border of Yorkshire
and Westmoreland, and saw rising all around them in
the half-darkness the mighty bulks of the great fells
which rise amongst that wild and lonely stretch of land.
At that hour of the night and amidst that weird silence,
broken only by the murmur of some adjacent waterfall
the scene was impressive and suggestive; it seemed to
Spargo as if London were a million miles away, and the
rush and bustle of human life a thing of another planet.
Here and there in the valleys he saw a light, but such
lights were few and far between ; even as he looked some
of them twinkled and went out. It was evident that he
and Breton were presently to be alone with the night.
"How far?" he asked Breton as they walked away
from the station.
"We'd better discuss matters," answered Breton.
"The place is in a narrow valley called Fossdale, some
six or seven miles away across these fells, and as wild a
walk as any lover of such things could wish for. It's
half -past nine now, Spargo: I reckon it will take us a
286 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
good two and a half hours, if not more, to do it. Now,
the question is — Do we go straight there, or do we put
up for the night? There's an inn here at this junction;
there's the Moor Cock Inn a mile or so along the road
which we must take before we turn off to the moorland
and the fells. It's going to be a black night — look at
those masses of black cloud gathering there! — and pos-
sibly a wet one, and we've no waterproofs. But it's for
you to say — I'm game for whatever you like."
"Do you know the way?" asked Spargo.
"I've been the way. In the daytime I could go
straight ahead. I remember all the landmarks. Even
in the darkness I believe I can find my way. But it's
' ' We '11 go straight there, ' ' said Spargo. ' ' Every min-
ute 's precious. But — can we get a mouthful of bread
and cheese and a glass of ale first?"
' ' Good idea ! We '11 call in at the ' Moor Cock. ' Now
then, while we're on this firm road, step it out lively."
The "Moor Cock" was almost deserted at that hour:
there was scarcely a soul in it when the two travellers
turned in to its dimly-lighted parlour. The landlord,
bringing the desired refreshment, looked hard at Breton.
"Come our way again then, sir?" he remarked with
a sudden grin of recognition.
"Ah, you remember me?" said Breton.
"I call in mind when you came here with the two old
gents last year," replied the landlord. "I hear they're
here again — Tom Summers was coming across that way
this morning, and said he'd seen 'em at the little cot-
tage. Going to join 'em, I reckon, sir?"
Breton kicked Spargo under the table.
"Yes, we're going to have a day or two with them,"
he answered. "Just to get a breath of your moorland
"Well, you'll have a roughish walk over there tonight,
gentlemen," said the landlord. "There's going to be
a storm. And it 's a stiliSsh way to make out at this time
"Oh, we'll manage," said Breton, nonchalantly. "I
know the way, and we're not afraid of a wet skin."
The landlord laughed, and sitting down on his long
settle folded his arms and scratched his elbows.
"There was a gentleman — London gentleman by his
tongue — came in here this afternoon, and asked the way
to Possdale," he observed. "He'll be there long since
— he'd have daylight for his walk. Happen he's one
of your party? — he asked where the old gentlemen's
little cottage was."
Again Spargo felt his shin kicked and made no sign.
"One of their friends, perhaps," answered Breton.
"What was he like?"
The landlord ruminated. He was not good at de-
scription and was conscious of the fact.
"Well, a darkish, serious-faced gentleman," he said.
"Stranger hereabouts, at all events. Wore a grey suit
— something like your friend's there. Yes — ^he took
some bread and cheese with him when he heard what
a long way it was."
"Wise man," remarked Breton. He hastily finished
his own bread and cheese, and drank off the rest of his
pint of ale. ' ' Come on, ' ' he said, ' ' let 's be stepping. ' '
288 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Outside, in the almost tangible darkness, Breton
clutched Sparge 's arm. "Who's the man?" he said.
"Can you think, Spargo?"
"Can't," answered Spargo. "I was trying to, while
that chap was talking. But — it's somebody that's got
in before us. Not Rathbury, anyhow — he's not serious-
faced. Heavens, Breton, however are you going to find
your way in this darkness?"
"You'll see presently. We follow the road a little.
Then we turn up the fell side there. On the top, if the
night clears a bit, we ought to see Great Shunnor Fell
and Lovely Seat — they're both well over two thousand
feet, and they stand up well. We want to make for a
point clear between them. But I warn you, Spargo, it's
stiff going ! ' '
"Go ahead!" said Spargo. "It's the first time in my
life I ever did anything of this sort, but we're going on
if it takes us all night. I couldn't sleep in any bed now
that I've heard there's somebody ahead of us. Go first,
old chap, and I '11 follow. ' '
Breton went steadily forward along the road. That
was easy work, but when he turned ofE and began to
thread his way up the fell-side by what was obviously
no more than a sheep-track, Spargo 's troubles began.
It seemed to him that he was walking as in a nightmare ;
all that he saw was magnified and heightened ; the dark-
ening sky above ; the faint outlines of the towering hills ;
the gaunt spectres of fir and pine -, the figure of Breton
forging stolidly and surely ahead. Now the ground was
soft and spongy under his feet; now it was stony and
rugged ; more than once he caught an ankle in the wire-
like heather and tripped, bruising his knees. And in the
end he resigned himself to keeping his eye on Breton,
outlined against the sky, and following doggedly in his
"Was there no other way than this?" he asked after
a long interval of silence. "Do you mean to say those
two — Elphick and Cardlestone — would take this way?"
"There is another way — down the valley, by Thwaite
Bridge and Hardraw," answered Breton, "but it's
miles and miles round. This is a straight cut across
country, and in daylight it's a delightful walk. But
at night — Gad ! — ^here 's the rain, Spargo ! ' '
The rain came down as it does in that part of the
world, with a suddenness that was as fierce as it was
heavy. The whole of the grey night was blotted out ;
Spargo was only conscious that he stood in a vast soli-
tude and was being gradually drowned. But Breton,
whose sight was keener, and who had more knowledge of
the situation dragged his companion into the shelter of
a group of rocks. He laughed a little as they huddled
"This is a different sort of thing to pursuing detec-
tive work in Fleet Street, Spargo," he said. "You
would come on, you know. ' '
"I'm going on if we go through cataracts and floods,"
answered Spargo. "I might have been induced to stop
at the 'Moor Cock' overnight if we hadn't heard of that
ch^p in front. If he's after those two he's somebody
who knows something. "What I can't make out is — ^who
he can be. ' '
"Nor I," said Breton. "I can't think of anybody
290 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
who knows of this retreat. But — ^has it ever struck you,
Spargo, that somebody beside yourself may have been
"Possible," replied Spargo. "One never knows. I
only wish we'd been a few hours earlier. For I wanted
to have the first word with those two. ' '
The rain ceased as suddenly as it had come. Just
as suddenly the heavens cleared. And going forward
to the top of the ridge which they were then crossing,
Breton pointed an arm to something shining far away
"You see that?" he said. "That's a sheet of water
lying between us and Cotterdale. We leave that on our
right hand, climb the fell beyond it, drop down into
Cotterdale, cross two more ranges of fell, and come down
into Fossdale under Lovely Seat. There's a good two
hours and a half stiff pull yet, Spargo. Think you can
Spargo set his teeth.
"Go on!" he said.
Up hill, down dale, now up to his ankles in peaty
ground, now tearing his shins, now bruising his knees,
Spargo, yearning for the London lights, the well-paved
London streets, the convenient taxi-cab, even the humble
omnibus, plodded forward after his guide. It seemed
to him that they had walked for ages and had traversed
a whole continent of mountains and valley when at last
Breton, halting on the summit of a wind-swept ridge,
laid one hand on his companion's shoulder and pointed
downward with the other.
"There!" he said. "There!"
Spargo looked ahead into the night. Far away, at
what seemed to him to be a considerable distance, he
saw the faint, very faint glimmer of a light — a mere
spark of a light.
"That's the cottage," said Breton. "Late as it is,
you see, they're up. And here's the roughest bit of the
journey. It'll take me all my time to find the track
across this moor, Spargo, so step carefully after me —
there are bogs and holes hereabouts."
Another hour had gone by ere the two came to the
cottage. Sometimes the guiding light had vanished,
blotted out by intervening rises in the ground; always,
when they saw it again, they were slowly drawing nearer
to it. And now when they were at last close to it, Spargo
realized that he found himself in one of the loneliest
places he had ever been capable of imagining — so lonely
and desolate a spot he had certainly never seen. In the
dim light he could see a narrow, crawling stream, mak-
ing its way down over rocks and stones from the high
ground of Great Shunnor Fell. Opposite to the place
at which they stood, on the edge of the moorland, a horse-
shoe like formation of ground was backed by a ring of
fir and pine ; beneath, this protecting fringe of trees stood
a small building of grey stone which looked as if it had
been originally built by some shepherd as a pen for the
moorland sheep. It was of no more than one storey in
height, but of some length ; a considerable part of it was
hidden by shrubs and brushwood. And from one un-
curtained, blindless window the light of a lamp shone
boldly into the fading darkness without.
Breton pulled up on the edge of the crawling stream.
292 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"We've got to get across there, Spargo," he said.
"But as we're already soaked to the knee it doesn't mat-
ter about getting another wetting. Have you any idea
how long we've been walking?"
"Hours — days — ^years!" replied Spargo.
"I should say quite four hours," said Breton. "In
that case, it's well past two o'clock, and the light will
be breaking in another hour or so. Now, once across
this stream, what shall we do?"
"What have we come to do? Go to the cottage, of
"Wait a bit. No need to startle them. By the fact
they've got a light, I take it that they're up. Look
As he spoke, a figure crossed the window passing be-
tween it and the light.
"That's not Elphick, nor yet Cardlestone," said
Spargo. "They're medium-heighted men. That's a
"Then it's the man the landlord of the 'Moor Cock'
told us about," said Breton. "Now, look here — I know
every inch of this place. When we're across let me go
up to the cottage, and I'll take an observation through
that window and see who's inside. Come on."
He led Spargo across the stream at a place where a
succession of boulders made a natural bridge, and bid-
ding him keep quiet, went up the bank to the cottage.
Spargo, watching him, saw him make his way past the
shrubs and undergrowth until he came to a great bush
which stood between the lighted window and the pro-
jecting porch of the cottage. He lingered in the shadow
of this bush but for a short moment; then came swiftly
and noiselessly back to his companion. His hand fell on
Spargo's arm with a clutch of nervous excitement.
"Spargo!" he whispered. "Who on earth do you
think the other man is ? "
THE WHIP HAND
Spargo, almost irritable from desire to get at close
grips with the objects of his long journey, shook off
Breton's hand with a growl of resentment.
"And how on earth can I waste time guessing?" he
exclaimed. "Who is he?"
Breton laughed softly.
"Steady, Spargo, steady!" he said. "It's Myerst—
the Safe Deposit man. Myerst!"
Spargo started as if something had bitten him.
"Myerst!" he almost shouted. "Myerst! Good
Lord! — ^why did I never think of him? Myerst!
"I don't know why you should have thought of him,"
said Breton. "But — he's there."
Spargo took a step towards the cottage ; Breton pulled
"Wait!" he said. "We've got to discuss this. I'd
better tell you what they're doing."
"What are they doing, then?" demanded Spargo im-
"Well," answered Breton. "They're going through
a quantity of papers. The two old gentlemen look very
ill and very miserable. Myerst is evidently laying down
THE WHIP HAND 295
the law to them in some fashion or other. I've formed
a notion, Spargo. ' '
' ' Myerst is in possession of whatever secret they have,
and he's followed them down here to blackmail them.
That's my notion."
Spargo thought awhile, pacing up and down the river
"I daresay you're right," he said. "Now, what's to
Breton, too, considered matters.
"I wish," he said at last, "I wish we could get in
there and overhear what's going on. But that's impos-
sible — I know that cottage. The only thing we can do
is this — ^we must catch Myerst unawares. He 's here for
no good. Look here ! ' '
And reaehing round to his hip-pocket Breton drew out
a Browning revolver and wagged it in his hand with a
' ' That 's a useful thing to have, Spargo, ' ' he remarked.
"I slipped it into my pocket the other day, wondering
why on earth I did it. Now it'll come in handy. For
anything we know Myerst may be armed. ' ' '
"Well?" said Spargo.
"Come up to the cottage. If things turn out as I
think they will, Myerst, when he's got what he wants,
will be off. Now, you shall get where I did just now,
behind that bush, and I'll station myself in the doorway.
You can report to me, and when Myerst comes out I'll
cover him. Gome on, Spargo; it's beginning to get light
already. ' '
296 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Breton cautiously led the way along the river bank,
making use of such cover as the willows and alders af-
forded. Together, he and Spargo made their way to
the front of the cottage. Arrived at the door, Breton
posted himself in the porch, motioning to Spargo to
creep in behind the bushes and to look through the win-
dow. And Spargo noiselessly followed his directions
and slightly parting the branches which concealed him
looked in through the uncurtained glass.
The interior into which he looked was rough and com-
fortless in the extreme. There were the bare accessories
of a moorland cottage; rough chairs and tables, plas-
tered walls, a fishing rod or two piled in a comer ; some
food set out on a side table. At the table in the middle
of the floor the three men sat. Cardlestone's face was
in the shadow ; Myerst had his back to the window ; old
Elphick bending over the table was laboriously writing
with shaking fingers. And Spargo twisted his head
round to his companion.
"Elphick," he said, "is writing a cheque. Myerst
has another cheque in his hand. Be ready! — ^when he
gets that second cheque I guess he'll be off."
Breton smiled grimly and nodded. A moment later
Spargo whispered again.
"Look out, Breton! He's coming."
Breton drew back into the angle of the porch ; Spargo
quitted his protecting bush and took the other angle.
The door opened. And they heard Myerst 's voice,
threatening, commanding in tone.
"Now, remember all I've said! And don't you for-
THE WHIP HAND 297
get — I've the whip hand of both of you— the whip
Then Myerst turned and stepped out into the grey
light — to find himself confronted by an athletic young
man who held the muzzle of an ugly revolver within
two inches of the bridge of his nose and in a remark-
ably firm and steady grip. Another glance showed him
the figure of a second business-like looking young man
at his side, whose attitude showed a desire to grapple
"Good-morning, Mr. Myerst," said Breton with cold
and ironic politeness. "We are glad to meet you so un-
expectedly. And — I must trouble you to put up your
hands. Quick ! ' '
Myerst made one hurried movement of his right hand
towards his hip, but a sudden growl from Breton made
him shift it just as quickly above his head, whither the
left followed it. Breton laughed softly.
"That's wise, Mr. Myerst," he said, keeping his re-
volver steadily pointed at his prisoner's nose. "Discre-
tion will certainly be the better part of your valour on
this occasion. Spargo — may I trouble you to see what
Mr. Myerst carries in his pockets? Go through them
carefully. Not for papers or documents — ^just now.
We can leave that matter — ^we 've plenty of time. See if
he's got a weapon of any sort on him, Spargo — that's the
Considering that Spargo had never gone through the
experience of searching a man before, he made sharp and
creditable work of seeing what the prisoner carried.
298 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
And he forthwith drew out and exhibited a revolver,
while Myerst, finding his tongue, cursed them both,
heartily and with profusion.
"Excellent!" said Breton, laughing again. "Sure
he's got nothing else on him that's dangerous, Spargo?
All right. Now, Mr. Myerst, right about face! Walk
into the cottage, hands up, and remember there are two
revolvers behind your back. March!"
Myerst obeyed this peremptory order with more
curses. The three walked into the cottage. Breton
kept his eye on his captive ; Spargo gave a glance at the
two old men. Cardlestone, white and shaking, was ly-
ing back in his chair; Elphick, scarcely less alarmed,
had risen, and was coming forward with trembling limbs.
""Wait a moment," said Breton, soothingly. "Don't
alarm yourself; We'll deal with Mr. Myerst here first.
Now, Myerst, my man, sit down in that chair — it's the
heaviest the place affords. Into it, now! Spargo, you
see that coil of rope there. Tie Myersst up — hand and
foot — to that chair. And tie him well. All the knots
to be double, Spargo, and behind him."
Myerst suddenly laughed.
"You damned young bully!" he exclaimed. "If you
put a rope round me, you're only putting ropes round
the necks of these two old villains. Mark that, my fine
"We'll see about that later," answered Breton. He
kept Myerst covered while Spargo made play with the
rope. "Don't be afraid of hurting him, Spargo," he
said. "Tie him well and strong. He won't shift that
chair in a hurry. ' '
THE WHIP HAND 299
Spargo spliced his man to the chair in a fashion that
would have done credit to a sailor. He left Myerst lit-
erally unable to move either hand or foot, and Myerst
cursed him from crown to heel for his pains. "That'll
do," said Breton at last. He dropped his revolver into
his pocket and turned to the two old men. Blphick
averted his eyes and sank into a chair in the darkest
corner of the room: old Cardlestone shook as with palsy
and muttered words which the two young men could not
catch. "Guardian," continued Breton, "don't be
frightened! And don't you be frightened, either, Mr.
Cardlestone. There's nothing to be afraid of, just yet,
whatever there may be later on. It seems to me that
Mr. Spargo and I came just in time. Now, guardian,
what was this fellow after?"
Old Elphick lifted his head and shook it; he was
plainly on the verge of tears ; as for Cardlestone, it was
evident that his nerve was completely gone. And Breton
pointed Spargo to an old corner cupboard.
"Spargo," he said, "I'm pretty sure you'll find
whisky in there. Give them both a stiif dose: they've
broken up. Now, guardian, ' ' he continued, when Spargo
had carried out this order, "what was he after? Shall
I suggest it? Was it — ^blackmail?"
Cardlestone began to whimper; Elphick nodded his
head. "Yes, yes!" he muttered. "Blackmail! That
was it — blackmail. He — he got money — papers — from
us. They're on him."
Breton turned on the captive with a look of contempt.
"I thought as much, Mr. Myerst," he said. "Spargo,
let's see what he has on him."
300 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Spargo began to search the prisoner's pockets. He
laid out everything on the table as he found it. It was
plain that Myerst had contemplated some sort of flight
or a long, long journey. There was a quantity of loose
gold ; a number of bank-notes of the more easily nego-
tiated denominations; various foreign securities, realiz-
able in Paris. And there was an open cheque, signed
by Cardlestone for ten thousand pounds, and another,
with Elphick's name at the foot, also open, for half that
amount. Breton examined all these matters as Spargo
handed them out. He turned to old Elphick.
"Guardian," he said, "why have you or Mr. Cardle-
stone given this man these cheques and securities?
What hold has he on you ? ' '
Old Cardlestone began to whimper afresh; Elphick
turned a troubled face on his ward.
"He — he threatened to accuse us of the murder of
Marbury!" he faltered. "We — we didn't see that we
had a chance."
"What does he know of the murder of Marbury and
of you in connection with it?" demanded Breton.
"Come — ^tell me the truth now."
"He's been investigating — so he says," answered El-
phick. "He lives in that house in Middle Temple Lane,
you know, in the top-floor rooms above Cardlestone 's.
And — and he says he's the fullest evidence against
Cardlestone — and against me as an accessory after the
"And— it's a lie?" asked Breton.
"A lie!" answered Elphick. "Of course, it's a lie.
But — he's so clever that — that "
THE WHIP HAND 301
"That you don't know how you could prove it other-
wise," said Breton. "Ah! And so this fellow lives
over Mr. Cardlestone there, does he ? That may account
for a good many things. Now we must have the police
here." He sat down at the table and drew the writing
materials to him. "Look here, Spargo," he continued.
"I'm going to write a note to the superintendent of
police at Hawes — there's a farm half a mile from here
where I can get a man to ride down to Hawes with the
note. Now, if you want to send a wire to the Watchman,
draft it out, and he'll take it with him."
Elphick began to move in his corner.
"Must the police come?" he said. "Must "
"The police must come," answered Breton firmly.
"Go ahead with your wire, Spargo, while I write this
Three quarters of an hour later, when Breton came
back from the farm, he sat down at Elphick 's side and
laid his hand on the old man's.
"Now, guardian," he said, quietly, "you've got to
tell us the truth."
It had been apparent to Spargo, from the moment of
his entering the cottage, that the two old men were suf-
fering badly from shock and fright: Cardlestone still
sat in his corner shivering and trembling ; he looked in-
capable of explaining anything; Elphick was scarcely
more fitted to speak. And when Breton issued his
peremptory invitation to his guardian to tell the truth,
"Far better leave him alone, Breton," he said in a
low voice. "Don't you see the old chap's done up?
They're both done up. We don't know what they've
gone through with this fellow before we came, and it's
certain they 've had no sleep. Leave it all till later — af-
ter all, we've found them and we've found him." He
jerked his thumb over his shoulder in My erst 's direc-
tion, and Breton involuntarily followed the movement.
He caught the prisoner's eye, and Myerst laughed.
"I daresay you two young men think yourselves very
clever," he said sneeringly. "Don't you, now?"
""We've been clever enough to catch you, anyway,"
retorted Breton. "And now we've got you we'll keep
you till the police can relieve us of you."
"Oh!" said Myerst, with another sneering laugh.
MYERST EXPLAINS 303
"And on what charge do you propose to hand me over to
the police? It strikes me you'll have some difficulty in
formulating one, Mr. Breton."
"We'll see about that later," said Breton. "You've
extorted money by menaces from these gentlemen, at any
"Have I? How do you know they didn't entrust
me with these cheques as their agent?'' exclaimed My-
erst. "Answer me that! Or, rather, let them answer
if they dare. Here you, Cardlestone,. you Elphick —
didn't you give me these cheques as your agent? Speak
up now, and quick ! ' '
Spargo, watching the two old men, saw them both
quiver at the sound of Myerst's voice; Cardlestone in-
deed, began to whimper softly.
"Look here, Breton," he said, whispering, "this
scoundrel's got some hold on these two old chaps — they're
frightened, to death of him. Leave them alone : it would
be best for them if they could get some rest. Hold your
tongue, you ! " he added aloud, turning to Myerst.
"When we want you to speak we'll tell you."
But Myerst laughed again.
"All very high and mighty, Mr. Spargo of the Watch-
man!" he sneered. "You're another of the cock-sure
lot. And you're very clever, but not clever enough.
Now, look here ! Supposing "
Spargo turned his back on him. He went over to old
Cardlestone and felt his hands. And he turned to
Breton with a look of concern.
"I say!" he exclaimed. "He's more than fright-
ened—he 's ill ! What 's to be done ? ' '
304 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
"I asked the police to bring a doctor along with
them," answered Breton. "In the meantime, kt's put
him to bed — there are beds in that inner room. We'll
get him to bed and give him something hot to drink —
that's all I can think of for the present."
Between them they managed to get Cardlestone to
his bed, and Spargo, with a happy thought, boiled water
on the rusty stove and put hot bottles to his feet. When
that was done they persuaded Blphick to lie down in the
inner room. Presently both old men fell asleep, and '
then Breton and Spargo suddenly realized that they
themselves were hungry and wet and weary.
"There ought to be food in the cupboard," said
Breton, beginning to rummage. "They've generally
had a good stock of tinned things. Here we are, Spargo
— these are tongues and sardines. Make some hot coffee
while I open one of these tins. ' '
The prisoner watched the preparations for a rough
and ready breakfast with eyes that eventually began to
"I may remind you that I'm hungry, too," he said as
Spargo set the coffee on the table. "And you've no
right to starve me, even if you 've the physical ability to
keep me tied up. Give me something to eat, if you
please. ' '
"You shan't starve," said Breton, carelessly. He cut
an ample supply of bread and meat, filled a cup with
coffee and placed cup and plate before Myerst. "Untie
his right arm, Spargo," he continued. "I think we can
give him that liberty. We've got his revolver, any-
• MYERST EXPLAINS 305
For a while the three men ate and drank in silence.
At last Myerst pushed his plate away. He looked scru-
tinizingly at his two captors. "Look here!" he said.
"You think you know a lot ahout all this affair, Spargo,
but there's only one person who knows all about it.
"We're taking that for granted," said Spargo. "We
guessed as much when we found you here. You'll have
ample opportunity for explanation, you know, later on. ' '
"I'll explain now, if you care to hear," said Myerst
with another of his cynical laughs. "And if I do, I'll
tell you the truth. I know you've got an idea in your
heads that isn't favourable to me, but you're utterly
wrong, whatever you may think. Look here ! — ^I '11 make
you a fair offer. There are some cigars in my case there
— give me one, and mix me a drink of that whisky — a
good 'un — and I'll tell you what I know about this mat-
ter. Come on! — any thing's better than sitting here do-
The two young men looked at each other. Then
Breton nodded. "Let him talk if he likes," he said.
"We're not bound to believe him. And we may hear
something that's true. Give him his cigar and his drink.
Myerst took a stiff pull at the contents of the tumbler
which Spargo presently set before him. He laughed as
he inhaled the first fumes of his cigar.
"As it happens, you'll hear nothing but the truth,"
he observed. "Now that things are as they are, there's
no reason why I shouldn't tell the truth. The fact is,
I've nothing to fear. You can't give me in charge, for
it so happens that I've got a power of attorney from
306 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
these two old chaps inside there to act for them in re-
gard to the money they entrusted me with. It's in an
inside pocket of that letter-case, and if you look at it,
Breton, you'll see it's in order. I'm not even going to
dare you to interfere with or destroy it — you're a bar-
rister, and you'll respect the law. But that's a fact —
and if anybody's got a case against anybody, I have
against you two for assault and illegal detention. But
I'm not a vindictive man, and "
Breton took up Myerst's letter-case and examined its
contents. And presently he turned to Spargo.
"He's right!" he whispered. "This is quite in or-
der." He turned to Myerst. "All the same," he said,
addressing him, "we shan't release you, because we be-
lieve you're concerned in the murder of John Marbury.
We're justified in holding you on that account."
"All right, my young friend," said Myerst. "Have
your own stupid way. But I said I 'd tell you the plain
truth. "Well, the plain truth is that I know no more of
the absolute murder of your father than I know of what
is going on in Timbuctoo at this moment! I do not
know who killed John Maitland. That's a fact! It
may have been the old man in there who's already at
his own last gasp, or it mayn't. I tell you •! don't know
— though, like you, Spargo, I've tried hard to find out.
That's the truth — I do not know."
"You expect us to believe that?" exclaimed Breton
"Believe it or not, as you like — it's the truth," an-
swered Myerst. "Now, look here — I said nobody knew
as much of this affair as I know, and that's true also.
MYERST EXPLAINS 307
And here's the truth of what I know. The old man in
that room, whom you know as Nicholas Cardlestone, is in
reality Chamberlayne, the stockbroker, of Market Mil-
caster, whose name was so freely mentioned when your
father was tried there. That's another fact!"
"How," asked Breton, sternly, "can you prove it?
How do you know it?"
"Because," replied Myerst, with a cunning grin, "I
helped to carry out his mock death and burial — I was a
solicitor in those days, and my name was — something
else. There were three of us at it: Chamberlayne 's
nephew; a doctor of no reputation; and myself. We
carried it out very cleverly, and Chamberlayne gave us
five thousand pounds apiece for our trouble. It was not
the first time that I had helped him and been well paid
for my help. The first time was in connection with the
Cloudhampton Hearth and Home Mutual Benefit So-
ciety affair — Aylmore, or Ainsworth, was as innocent as
a child in that! — Chamberlayne was the man at the
back. But, unfortunately, Chamberlayne didn't profit
— ^he lost aU he got by it, pretty quick. That was why
be transferred his abilities to Market Milcaster."
"You can prove all this, I suppose?" remarked
"Every word — every letter! But about the Market
Milcaster affair: Your father, Breton, was right in
what he said about Chamberlayne having all the money
that was got from the bank. He had — and he engi-
neered that mock death and funeral so that he could
disappear, and he paid us who helped him generously,
as I've told you. The thing couldn't have been better
308 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
done. When it was done, the nephew disappeared ; the
doctor disappeared; Chamberlayne disappeared. I had
bad luck — to tell you the truth, I was struck o£E the rolls
for a technical offence. So I changed my name and
became Mr. Myerst, and eventually what I am now. And
it was not until three years ago that I found Chamber-
layne. I found him in this way: After I became sec-
retary to the Safe Deposit Company, I took chambers in
the Temple, above Cardlestone 's. And I speedily found
out who he was. Instead of going abroad, the old fox —
though he was a comparatively young 'un, then! — ^had
shaved off his beard, settled down in the Temple and
given himself up to his two hobbies, collecting curiosities
and stamps. There he'd lived quietly all these years,
and nobody had ever recognized or suspected him. In-
deed, I don't see how they could; he lived such a quiet,
secluded life, with his collections, his old port, and his
little whims and fads. But — I knew him ! ' '
"And you doubtless profited by your recognition,"
"I certainly did. He was glad to pay me a nice
sum every quarter to hold my tongue," replied My-
erst, "and I was glad to take it and, naturally, I gained
a considerable knowledge of him. He had only one
friend — ^Mr. Elphick, in there. Now, I'll you about
"Only if you are going to speak respectfully of him,"
said Breton sternly.
"I've no reason to do otherwise. Elphick is the man
who ought to have married your mother. When things
turned out as they did, Elphick took you and brought
MYERST EXPLAINS 309
you up as he has done, so that you should never know
of your father's disgrace. Elphick never knew until
last night that Cardlestone is Chamberlayne. Even the
biggest scoundrels have friends — Elphick 's very fond
of Cardlestone. He "
Spargo turned sharply on Myerst.
"You say Elphick didn't know until last night!" he
exclaimed. "Why, then, this running away? What
were they running from?"
"I have no more notion than you have, Spargo," re-
plied Myerst. "I tell you one or other of them knows
something that I don't. Elphick, I gather, took fright
from you, and went to Cardlestone — then they both van-
ished. It may be that Cardlestone did kill Maitland —
I don't know. But I'll tell you what I know about the
actual murder — for I do know a good deal about it,
though, as I say, I don't know who killed Maitland.
Now, first, you know all that about Maitland 's having
papers and valuables and gold on him? Very well —
I've got all that. The whole lot is locked up — safely —
and I 'm willing to hand it over to you, Breton, when we
go back to town, and the necessary proof is given — as it
will be-^that you're Maitland 's son."
Myerst paused to see the effect of this announcement,
and laughed when he saw the blank astonishment which
stole over his hearers' faces.
"And still more," he continued, "I've got all the
contents of that leather box which Maitland deposited
with me — ^that's safely locked up, too, and at your dis-
posal. I took possession of that the day after the mur-
der. Then, for purposes of my own, I went to Scotland
310 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Yard, as Spargo there is aware. You see, I was playing
a game — and it required some ingenuity."
"A game!" exclaimed Breton. "Good heavens —
"I never knew until I had possession of all these
things that Marbury was Maitland of Market Milcaster,"
answered Myerst. "When I did know then I began to
put things together and to pursue my own line, inde-
pendent of everybody. I tell you I had all Maitland 's
papers and possessions, by that time — except one thing.
That packet of Australian stamps. And — I found out
that those stamps were in the hands of — Cardlestone!"
THE FINAL TELEGRAM
Myerst paused, to take a pull at his glass, and to look
at the two amazed listeners with a smile of conscious
"In the hands of Cardlestone, " he repeated. "Now,
what did I argue from that? Why, of course, that
Maitland had been to Cardlestone 's rooms that night.
Wasn't he found lying dead at the foot of Cardlestone 's
stairs? Aye — ^but who found him? Not the porter —
not the police — not you, Master Spargo, with all your
cleverness. The man who found Maitland lying dead
there that night was — I ! ' '
In the silence that followed, Spargo, who had been
making notes of what Myerst said, suddenly dropped his
pencil and thrusting his hands in his pockets sat bolt
upright with a look which Breton, who was watching
him seriously, could not make out. It was the look of a
man whose ideas and conceptions are being rudely up-
set. And Myerst, too, saw it and he laughed, more
sneeringly than ever.
"That's one for you, Spargo!" he said. "That sur-
prises you — that maJies you think. Now what do you
think? — if one may ask."
"I think," said Spargo, "that you are either a con-
312 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
summate liar, or that this mystery is bigger than be-
"I can lie when it's necessary," retorted Myerst.
"Just now it isn't necessary. I'm telling you the plain
truth: there's no reason why I shouldn't. As I've said
before, although you two young bullies have tied me up
in this fashion, you can't do anything against me. I've
a power of attorney from those two old men in there, and
that's enough to satisfy anybody as to my possession of
their cheques and securities. I 've the whip hand of you,
my sons, in all ways. And that's why I'm telling you
the truth — ^to amuse myself during this period of wait-
ing. The plain truth, my sons ! ' '
"In pursuance of which," observed Breton, drily, "I
think you mentioned that you were the first person to
find my father lying dead?"
"I was. That is — as far as I can gather. I'll teU
you all about it. As I said, I live over Cardlestone.
That night I came home very late — it was well past one
o'clock. There was nobody about — as a matter of fact,
no one has residential chambers in that building but
Cardlestone and myself. I found the body of a man
lying in the entry. I struck a match and immediately
recognized my visitor of the afternoon — John Marbury.
Now, although I was so late in going home, I was as sober
as a man can be, and I think pretty quickly at all times.
I thought a:t double extra speed just then. And the first
thing I did was to strip the body of every article it had
on it — money, papers, everything. All these things are
safely locked up — they've never been tracked. Next
day, using my facilities as secretary to the Safe Deposit
THE FINAL TELEGRAM 31S
Company, I secured the things in that box. Then I
found out who the dead man really was. And then I
deliberately set to work to throw dust in the eyes of the
police and of the newspapers, and particularly in the
eyes of young Master Spargo there. I had an object."
"What?" asked Breton.
"What! Knowing all I did, I firmly believed that
Marbury, or, rather, Maitland, had been murdered by
either Cardlestone or Elphick. I put it to myself in
this way, and my opinion was strengthened as you,
Spargo, inserted news in your paper — Maitland, finding
himself in the vicinity of Cardlestone after leaving Ayl-
more's rooms that night, turned into our building, per-
haps jiist to see where Cardlestone lived. He met Car-
dlestone accidentally, or he perhaps met Cardlestone and
Elphick together — ^they recognized each other. Mait-
land probably threatened to expose Cardlestone, or,
rather, Chamberlayne — nobody, of course, could know
what happened, but my theory was that Chamberlayne
killed him. There, at any rate, was the fact that Mait-
land was found murdered at Chamberlayne 's very thres-
hold. And, in the course of a few days, I proved, to my
own positive satisfaction, by getting access to Cham-
berlayne 's rooms in his absence that Maitland had been
there, had been in those rooms. For I found there, in
Chamberlayne 's desk, the rare Australian stamps of
which Criedir told at the inquest. That was proof posi-
Spargo looked at Breton. They knew what Myerst
did not know — that the stamps of which he spoke were
lying in Spargo 's breast pocket, where they had lain
314. THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
since he had picked them up from the litter and confu-
sion of Chamberlayne's floor.
"Why," asked Breton, after a pause, "why did you
never accuse Cardlestone, or Chamberlayne, of the mur^
"I did! I have accused him a score of times — and
Elphick, too," replied Myerst with emphasis. "Not at
first, mind you — I never let Chamberlayne know that I
ever suspected him for some time. I had my own game
to play. But at last — ^not so many days ago — I did.
I accused them both. That's how I got the whip hand
of them. They began to be afraid — by that time El-
phick had got to know all about Cardlestone 's past as
Chamberlayne. And as I tell you, Elphick 's fond of
Cardlestone. It's queer, but he is. He — wants to shield
"What did they say when you accused them?" asked
Breton. "Let's keep to that point — ^never mind their
feelings for one another. ' '
"Just so, but that feeling's a lot more to do with this
mystery than you think, my young friend," said Myerst.
"What did they say, you ask? Why, they strenuously
denied it. Cardlestone swore solemnly to me that he
had no part or lot in the murder of Maitland. So did
Elphick. But — they know something about the murder.
If those two old men can't tell you definitely who ac-
tually struck John Maitland down, I'm certain that they
have a very clear idea in their minds as to who really
did! They "
A sudden sharp cry from the inner room interrupted
THE FINAL TELEGRAM 315
Myerst. Breton and Spargo started to their feet and
made for the door. But before they could reach it El-
phick came out, white and shaking.
"He's gone!" he exclaimed in quavering accents.
"My old friend's gone — he's dead! I was — asleep. I
woke suddenly and looked at him. He "
Spargo forced the old man into a chair and gave him
some whislg^ ; Breton passed quickly into the inner room ;
only to come back shaking his head.
"He's dead," he said. "He evidently died in his
sleep. ' '
"Then his secret's gone with him," remarked Myerst,
calmly. "And now we shall never know if he did kill
John Maitland or if he didn't. So that's done with!"
Old Elphick suddenly sat up in his chair, pushing
Spargo fiercely away from his side.
"He didn't kill John Maitland!" he cried angrily,
attempting to' shake his fist at Myerst. "Whoever says
he killed Maitland lies. He was as innocent as I am.
You've tortured and tormented him to his death with
that charge, as you're torturing me — among you. I tell
you he'd nothing to do with John Maitland 's death —
nothing ! ' '
"Who had, then?" he said.
"Hold your tongue!" commanded Breton, turning
angrily on him. He sat down by Elphick 's side and
laid his hand soothingly on the old man's arm.
"Guardian," he said, "why don't you tell what you
know? Don't be afraid of that fellow there — he's safe
316 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
enough. Tell Spargo and me what you know of the
matter. Remember, nothing can hurt Cardlestone, or
Chamberlayne, or whoever he is or was, now."
Blphiek sat for a moment shaking his head. He al-
lowed Spargo to give him another drink; he lifted his
head and looked at the two young men with something
of an appeal.
"I'm badly shaken," he said. "I've suffered much
lately — I've learnt things that I didn't know. Perhaps
I ought to have spoken before, but I was afraid for — ^for
him. He was a good friend, Cardlestone, whatever else
he may have been — a good friend. And — I don't know
any more than what happened that night."
"Tell us what happened that night," said Breton.
"Well, that night I went round, as I often did, to
play piquet with Cardlestone. That was about ten
o'clock. About eleven Jane Baylis came to Cardlestone 's
— she'd been to my rooms to find me — wanted to see me
particularly— and she'd come on there, knowing where
I should be. Cardlestone would make her have a glass
of wine and a biscuit; she sat down and we all talked.
Then, about, I should think, a quarter to twelve, a knock
came at Cardlestone 's door — his outer door was open,
and of course anybody outside could see lights within.
Cardlestone went to the door: we heard a man's voice
enquire for him by name; then the voice added that
Criedir, the stamp dealer, had advised him to call on
Mr. Cardlestone to show him some rare Aiustralian
stamps, and that seeing a light under his door he had
knocked. Cardlestone asked him in — ^he came in. That
was the man we saw next day at the mortuary. Upon
THE FINAL TELEGRAM 317
my honour, we didn't know him, either that night or
"What happened when he came in?" asked Breton.
"Cardlestone asked him to sit down: he offered and
gave him a drink. The man said Criedir had given him
Cardlestone 's address, and that he'd been with a friend
at some rooms in Fountain Court, and as he was passing
our building he'd just looked to make sure where Cardle-
stone lived, and as he'd noticed a light he'd made bold
to knock. He and Cardlestone began to examine the
stamps. Jane Baylis said good-night, and she and I left
Cardlestone and the man together."
"No one had recognized him?" said Breton.
"No one! Eememher, I only once or twice saw Mait-
land in all my life. The others certainly did not recog-
nize him. At least, I never knew that they did — if they
"Tell us," said Spargo, joining in for the first time,
"tell us what you and Miss Baylis did?"
"At the foot of the stairs Jane Baylis suddenly said
she'd forgotten something in Cardlestone 's lobby. As
she was going out in to Fleet Street, and I was going
down Middle Temple Lane to turn off to my own rooms
we said good-night. She went back upstairs. And I
went home. And upon my soul and honour that's all I
Spargo suddenly leapt to his feet. He snatched at his
cap — a sodden and bedraggled headgear which he had
thrown down when they entered the cottage.
"That's enough!" he almost shouted. "I've got it —
at last! Breton — where 's the nearest telegraph office?
318 THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER
Hawes? Straight down this valley? Then, here's for
it ! Look after things till I 'm back, or, when the police
come, join me there. I shall catch the first train to town,
anyhow, after wiring."
"But — ^what are you after, Spargo?" exclaimed
Breton. ' ' Stop ! What on earth ' '
But Spargo had closed the door and was running for
all he was worth down the valley. Three quarters of
an hour later he startled a quiet and peaceful telegra-
phist by darting, breathless and dirty, into a sleepy
country post office, snatching a telegraph form and scrib-
bling down a message in shaky handwriting : —
Bathbury, Ne-w Scotland Yard, London.
Arrest Jaifie BayUs at once for murder of John Mait-
land. Coming straight to town with full evidence.
Then Spargo dropped on the ofl5ce bench, and while the
wondering operator set the wires ticking, strove to get
his breath, utterly spent in his mad race across the
heather. And when it was got he set omt again — to find
Some days later, Spargo, having seen Stephen Ayl-
more walk out of the Bow Street dock, cleared of the
charge against him, and in a fair way of being cleared
of the affair of twenty years before, found himself in a
very quiet corner of the Court holding the hand of Jessie
Aylmore, who, he discovered, was saying things to him
THE FINAL TELEGRAM 319
which he scarcely comprehended. There was nobody
near them and the girl spoke freely and warmly.
"But you will come — you will come today — and be
properly thanked," she said. "You will — won't you?"
Spargo allowed himself to retain possession of the
hand. Also he took a straight look into Jessie Ayl-
"I don't want thanks," he said. "It was all a lot of
luck. And if I come — ^today — it will be to see — ^just
Jessie Aylmore looked down at the two hands.
"I think," she whispered, "I think that is what I
really meant ! ' '